Aug 14, 2019

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

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

Go deeper

Trump promises "very big trade deal" with U.K. as Brexit deadline looms

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Sunday. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump promised Britain Sunday a "very big trade deal" with the U.S. — "bigger than we’ve ever had with the U.K." — and declared British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the "right man" to oversee Brexit, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Trump said Britain leaving the EU would be like losing "an anchor round the ankle," per the BBC. But as the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline looms, it is still unclear whether the United Kingdom can leave the European Union with an agreement in place or, indeed, whether the U.K. will leave the EU. Johnson has vowed it will happen "do or die," but experts warn that leaving without a deal could have catastrophic consequences.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 25, 2019

Northern Ireland's Brexit balancing act

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In the 1,160 days since the Brexit referendum, Northern Ireland — a complex, but oft-forgotten country the size of Connecticut — has emerged as the ultimate sticking point in the worst crisis the U.K. has faced since World War II.

Why it matters: Brexit threatens to unsettle the dual identity dynamic on which peace in Northern Ireland hinges. The struggle to maintain that balance has ended the political career of Theresa May, catapulted Boris Johnson into Downing Street, and could result in a cliff-edge Brexit on Oct. 31 with potentially disastrous consequences — barring a miraculous last-minute deal.

Go deeperArrowAug 29, 2019

U.K. food, fuel and drug shortages likely in no-deal Brexit: Report

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Venture Quay on the Isle of Wight in June. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Britain faces shortages of fuel, food and medicine and a likely hard border in Ireland if there's a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, according to U.K. government documents leaked to the Sunday Times.

Why it matters: The Cabinet Office forecast outlines the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than a worst-case scenario, according to the news outlet.

Go deeperArrowAug 18, 2019