The Staggers 30 July 2019 It’s not Donald Trump the UK should be wooing to get a trade deal. It’s Nancy Pelosi A hard border in Ireland could scupper Boris Johnson's hopes of a US trade deal. Getty Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up As Boris Johnson prepares to visit Northern Ireland tomorrow on his tour of the union, a group flexing their muscles from across the Atlantic may well be weighing on his mind. 40 prominent Irish-American politicians and business leaders have written a letter to Julian Smith, the new Northern Ireland Secretary, expressing their concerns about maintaining a frictionless border on the island of Ireland as the 31 October draws closer. They are certainly neither the first nor the last group to warn of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit to peace and stability in the region, but it is a significant intervention, because, indirectly, they represent a real-life obstacle to the new Prime Minister’s hopes of a UK-USA deal. While Liz Truss, the new International Trade Secretary, declared today that such a deal would be her “top priority” after meetings with the US Ambassador yesterday, these high-powered Irish-Americans, who form what is pithily called the Ad Hoc Committee to Protect the Good Friday Agreement, have amplified Nancy Pelosi’s warning from last April that a UK-USA trade deal would be “impossible” if Brexit endangers the Good Friday Agreement. And the challenge for Truss, Johnson and Trump is that Trump doesn’t have the final sign-off: rather, any trade deal would have to pass through Pelosi’s Democrat-held Congress. At the time, Pelosi spoke about America’s deep investment in the Good Friday Agreement as “an ideal, a value, something we all take pride in”, and as an American legacy she would consider to be undermined by a hard border after a no-deal Brexit. This new intervention is just another reminder that the American legislature maintains a deep, emotional and longstanding alignment with Ireland’s interests, regardless of Donald Trump’s famous interest in making deals. The possibility of a “very substantial” trade agreement with the U.S.A. is being presented by the Johnson administration as a boon amid preparations for a potential No Deal. As he travels around Northern Ireland tomorrow, he will be aware that he is walking on a very thin tightrope. › Seven times politicians were booed (almost) as much as Boris Johnson Ailbhe Rea is political correspondent at the New Statesman. Subscribe To stay on top of global affairs and enjoy even more international coverage subscribe for just £1 per month!