Thursday 10 June 2021 2:03 pm

US govt downplays Brexit criticism: 'Biden not here to lecture Boris'

US President Joe Biden has not come to Britain to lecture Boris Johnson about Northern Ireland, a senior US administration official said today.

“He didn’t come here to give a lecture,” the official said. “He came here to communicate what he believes very, very deeply about peace in Northern Ireland.”

It comes after Labour leader Keir Starmer said that a warning from the Biden administration not to imperil peace in Northern Ireland was an “unprecedented rebuke” for a British prime minister.

Starmer added that the government’s handling of the matter was undermining both the peace process and the UK’s relationship with the US.

Aides to Biden will stress the need to stand behind the Northern Ireland Protocol, the element of the Brexit deal which has led to a UK-EU dispute.

The issue has threatened to overshadow Biden’s meeting with Johnson in Carbis Bay on Friday.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheál Martin echoed Starmer’s comments, calling Biden’s intervention in the disagreement “significant”.

“The intervention from Joe Biden’s administration is significant but also from my perspective, represents a lot of common sense,” Martin told the Newstalk radio station.

“I think the US are saying ‘sort out this issue, we’re very clear from a United States perspective that the Good Friday Agreement, peace on the island is an absolute imperative and that the protocol is a contributor to that. You have signed up to it, adhere to it’.”