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Trump’s Northern Ireland envoy warns of ‘hard border by accident’

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s special envoy for Northern Ireland | Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Lack of border on the island must be maintained, Mick Mulvaney says.

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9/18/20, 11:58 AM CET

Updated 9/18/20, 12:07 PM CET

U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Northern Ireland warned Friday against creating a hard border “by accident” on the island of Ireland.

The British government has faced fierce criticism for introducing a bill that would amend parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland — a move London acknowledged breaches international law.

Speaking to the Financial Times, envoy Mick Mulvaney said: “Everyone assures me that no one is interested in seeing a hard border between the republic and Northern Ireland … We appreciate that, we respect that and we agree with that. The one thing I keep trying to assure is on the front of everybody’s mind is avoiding a border by accident.”

Both the EU and U.S. Democrats had previously warned that the bill could endanger peace on the island if the Brexit transition period ends without an EU-U.K. trade deal. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said that a U.K.-U.S. trade deal “must be contingent upon … preventing the return of a hard border.”

While Mulvaney said the bill would “not directly” threaten peace in Northern Ireland, he felt that “there’s so much left to be decided on Brexit including the [bill]. I see nothing in particular that would inevitably lead to a hard border, but again I am simply concerned that everyone be aware of the potential risks.”

He added: “We’re going to wait and see because the underlying EU-U.K. trade discussion could end up mooting” the bill.

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