Aug 14, 2019 - World

Pelosi rules out U.K. trade deal if Brexit creates hard border with Ireland

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi speaks at a reception hosted by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the State Apartments in Dublin Castle. Photo: Iain White/Pool/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday that there is "no chance" of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal passing Congress if Brexit violates the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, which helped bring peace to Northern Ireland in 1998 by creating a seamless Irish border.

The big picture: Pelosi's statement is in response to comments made by national security adviser John Bolton, who said this week that the Trump administration enthusiastically supports a no-deal Brexit and that the U.K. is "first in line" for a trade deal with the U.S. If Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes the U.K. out of the EU without a deal on Oct. 31, as is the legal default, customs checkpoints would theoretically need to be erected along the Irish border — risking a flareup of sectarian violence.

Why it matters: Trade deals must be passed by Congress, so Pelosi has significant influence over the U.S.-U.K. relationship post-Brexit — no matter the White House's position. A future trade deal with the U.S. has been touted by Johnson and other Brexiteers as one of the main attractions of leaving the EU and a reason to be optimistic about Britain's future, despite warnings from economists about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.

Go deeper: More on Brexit's Irish border headache

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