The White House has warned Liz Truss that UK-US trade talks could be in jeapardy if her government undermines post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.
“There is a no formal linkage on trade talks between the US and the UK and the Northern Ireland protocol, as we have said, but efforts to undo the Northern Ireland protocol would not create a conducive environment,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
On Tuesday, the White House said Joe Biden and Ms Truss “discussed their shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the importance of reaching a negotiated agreement with the European Union on the Northern Ireland protocol.”
The two leaders could meet as soon as the UN General Assembly later in September.
Mr Biden, who often speaks with pride of his Irish roots, has insisted Britain should do nothing that could endanger a quarter-century of peace in Northern Ireland.
As foreign secretary, Ms Truss introduced legislation to unilaterally disregard the terms of the protocol, which was part of Britain’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union.
On Wednesday, she told the House of Commons that her preference was to negotiate with the EU to solve the issues the protocol has caused with trade and the function of the Northern Ireland executive.
But she warned any solution would have to deliver “all of the things we set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill”.
Ireland‘s prime minister Micheal Martin said he took “heart” from Mr Truss’s remarks and the EU was ready to be flexible and responsive.
Mr Martin thanked Mr Biden’s for his support for the Belfast Agreement, saying “his interest has been genuine and I do welcome that.”
Despite the conciliatory tones in Dublin and Westminster, many in Ulster were disturbed by Ms Truss’s appointment of arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker as a minister in the Northern Ireland Office.
The decision was branded “obnoxious” and a “red flag” by SDLP MP Claire Hanna, who said Ms Truss appeared to be “continuing down the diplomatically ignorant route of her predecessor”.
Mr Baker, who organised the Brexiteer revolt that ultimately brought down Theresa May, has described the protocol as “a thorn in the side of relations between us and Ireland” and backed Ms Truss’s legislation to undermine it.
Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith congratulated Mr Baker on his new role. He urged the new minister to work with Chris Heaton-Harris – who now heads up the department – to “push urgently for a compromise deal” with the EU to deliver a revised protocol and restore powersharing in Northern Ireland.