Chairman Neal: British Govt must uphold law, deliver on NI border commitments

Ways & Means chairman Richard Neal is pictured in this 2019 photo at a Cape Cod reception for the American Ireland Fund.

Chairman Neal Statement on UK-EU BrexitNegotiations


SPRINGFIELD, MA – Sept 8, 2020- Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement on Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom:

 “Earlier this year, the European Union and the United Kingdom approved a Withdrawal Agreement that established the terms of the United Kingdom's orderly exit from the EU. I urge both sides to uphold the terms of this joint agreement, particularly with respect to the treatment of Northern Ireland, in accordance with international law. The UK’s departure from the EU at the end of this year and any U.S.-UK trade agreement must preserve the Good Friday Agreement, which has maintained peace and prosperity for British and European peoples since 1998.

 "The United States is a guarantor of that historic peace accord, which was approved by the people of Ireland, north and south, in an unprecedented referendum. Since the landmark peace deal was reached in 1998, the 310-mile border in Ireland has remained frictionless and invisible. Every political party on the island opposes a return of a hard border. I sincerely hope the British government upholds the rule of law and delivers on the commitments it made during Brexit negotiations, particularly in regard to the Irish border protocols."

 In a November 2019 speech in Boston to the New Englnd Council, Neal had taken a hard line on the then-un resolved Brexit issues. 

"“You know,” he said, “Brexit has been a three-year process and now the divorce is under way. What I think it’s also fair to say is that you shouldn’t over-promise by suggesting that this was going to be easy. It was nonsense from the start. So here we are three years later, and really no closer to an agreement in terms of trying to stitch up all the loose ends.
“The Good Friday Agreement worked because of the American dimension. We were a fair arbiter, and part of the agreement is the work of genius in the North, the six counties, where my grandmother was from. The idea was that if you want to be Irish, you can be Irish. If you want to be British, you can be British. If you want to be both, you can be both. That was the idea.
“So, the longest standing political dispute in the his-tory of the western world in some matter and manner was resolved. But the vic-tory that we have on the nationalist side, aggressively supported by the Republic of Ireland, is the invisible 310-mile border, and it changed everything. So today people, commerce, and agriculture, in particular, move from Belfast to Dublin, back and US Rep. Richie Neal forth. It has all worked.
“I want to say this about Brexit: I think that the agreement Mr. Johnson recently proposed will create a border. It’s going to be difficult for some on the island, but at the same time I think that there are times in politics when you hold out for a better deal than you were likely to get, and you end up getting what you didn’t want. And I think in this instance, we would all be better if the DUP – the hard-line unionist party – had subscribed to the advice of that sage of Western thought, Mick Jagger: You get what you need. And I think their refusal to take that is now the cause for what is going to be a more contentious divorce. But Boris Johnson has said that’s the price that they’re willing to pay.
“We were clear with Theresa May at the time, and we were clear in Dublin, Belfast, and Derry. And we met the Brexiteers for lunch. It didn’t go that well. It was one of those events, again, where the speaker was happy to let them know how she felt. A trade deal eventually with the UK is very desirable, but not until we see how the issue of the border is resolved. I think this can still be done, but it won’t be done amicably."