White House enthusiasm for a trade deal with the United Kingdom is palpable. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the visiting British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Aug. 7 that the U.S. will be ready, "pen in hand," to sign "a new free trade agreement at the earliest possible time."
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, traveled this week to London to assure officials that the Trump administration will put Britain at the front of the queue in trade talks.
But the prospects for a deal are much more complicated in Congress, which appears to be split between supporters of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, however Brexit comes about, and supporters of Ireland, many of whom still identify with the "emerald isle" all these generations later.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who leads the 435-member House of Representatives, recently reiterated a position she took in a speech to the Irish Parliament in April, saying the United States "must ensure that nothing happens in the Brexit discussions that imperils the Good Friday accord, including but not limited to the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland."
The success of that U.S.-mediated 1998 agreement, ending decades of strife between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, depended largely on the free movement of goods and people between the independent Republic of Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland while both were part of the European Union.
"If the Brexit deal undermines the accord, there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. agreement," Pelosi warned.
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