Boris Johnson got the bright G7 headlines he wanted, but don’t be fooled

However friendly Joe Biden seemed, the US government opposes any move that would create a harder Irish border.

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Another day at the G7, another president with grave concerns about the British government’s objectives to renegotiate the Irish border protocol. This time the president in question is Emmanuel Macron.  

Boris Johnson got the headlines he wanted from his first day at the G7: the American government’s denial of the Times story about its concerns over the British approach to implementing the protocol – which wasn’t actually a denial of the story’s substance – meant that today’s papers didn’t lead off with headlines about a rift between Joe Biden and the Prime Minister. Add to that the long, long, long list of political priorities where Johnson and Biden are both more closely aligned than Johnson and Trump, and than Biden and Europe’s other regional powers, and it all makes for a successful first day at the G7. 

[Hear more on the New Statesman podcast]

But scratch the surface and the problem remains: the American government opposes any move that would create a harder border on the island of Ireland, and the American government’s objectives in a US-UK trade deal would either create a harder border in the Irish Sea (because of the greater divergence between the UK and EU on agri-food and other standards) or a harder world for British farmers. The same goes for the UK’s trade deals with Australia, New Zealand, Mercosur and essentially any country or bloc with a large agricultural sector you care to name. The hard choices required to prevent the protocol from continuing to pull Northern Ireland and Great Britain further apart remain very much in place. 

[see also: What to expect from the 2021 G7 summit]

See all the New Statesman's G7 coverage here

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. He also co-hosts the New Statesman podcast.

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