The chances of a United Ireland being backed by voters in Northern Ireland have skyrocketed after US president Joe Biden’s national security adviser delivered a withering take on the UK’s impending trade war with the EU.
The UK officially left the European Union with a Brexit deal of sorts at the start of 2021 after a withdrawal agreement was finally ratified. But there are already tensions around the deal – particularly over border checks in Northern Ireland.
Prime minister Boris Johnson claimed that there would be no checks to goods or services between NI and Ireland, which is an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement aimed at maintaining peace on the island.
However, that leaves the issue of where checks are made on goods, as the EU don’t allow certain products to enter the bloc via a non-EU member, which the UK is, without checks.
The Northern Ireland Protocol was a compromise set up to enable checks to take place at NI ports, effectively creating a border in the Irish Sea – contrary to Johnson’s claims.
Why the issue has fallen on Biden’s radar is because a potential trade war over sausages is surfacing. There is concern that Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) won’t be able to send sausages and other chilled meats to NI, because it shares a border with the EU, when a six-month grace period ends.
Chain Reaction To United Ireland
Biden has already expressed his concern over how the UK and EU are dealing with the post-Brexit landscape, and where this leaves Northern Ireland. The president is expected to address the subject in Cornwall during the G7 summit.
According to his national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Biden has “deep” concerns about the issue. Meanwhile, US diplomat Yael Lempert reportedly told Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost that the country was “inflaming” tensions in Ireland.
Having the US wade in on the debate is seen as a boon for the EU and also for those desperate to keep the peace agreement in place.
Yet betting sites have reacted to Biden’s possible intervention by crushing the odds of Northern Ireland voting to leave the UK and unify with the Republic.
Hours after Sullivan’s comments bookies saw a shift from 4/1 to 2/1 on NI voting for a United Ireland by 2024.
Back in January a poll by the Sunday Times suggested 51 per cent of people in Northern Ireland would be open to a referendum on unification, with a 47-42 split in favour of remaining in the UK.
Meanwhile, Betfair’s price on a United Ireland by 2030 has come in to 7/2.
UK/US Trade Deal
As for the UK government’s hopes of securing a major trade deal with the US, wrangles over the Northern Ireland Protocol have only worsened the likelihood of Johnson shaking hands with Biden any time soon.
Britain following the EU’s rules “wouldn’t negatively affect the chances of reaching a US/UK free trade deal,” according to Lempert.
The odds of a trade deal being signed in 2021 are currently floating at 2/1 and rising.