Not on the agenda but Brexit threatens unity at G-7 summit

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1623555654155.png LONDON — As President Joe Biden seeks to unite Western democracies to counter China's increasing global influence at the Group of Seven meeting of world leaders on Saturday, one issue is threatening to divide his European counterparts: Brexit.

Although Britain's decision to leave the European Union is not officially on the G-7 agenda at the two-day gathering by the sea in Cornwall, England, a diplomatic feud over Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that borders the 27-nation bloc, continued to escalate.


Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson held separate meetings with both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday. He also spoke with E.U. officials.

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Afterward, he accused the European bloc of not taking a "sensible or pragmatic" approach to post-Brexit arrangements and threatened to use an emergency clause to suspend agreed-upon rules if the bloc did not compromise.

The E.U. is angry at a British delay in implementing new checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K., while Britain says those checks are imposing a big burden on businesses and destabilizing Northern Ireland's hard-won peace.
The diplomatic spat — over what is known as the Northern Ireland Protocol — has drawn in Biden, who is concerned about the potential threat to Northern Ireland's 1998 Good Friday peace deal, which ended three decades of conflict, known as the Troubles.

Ahead of the president's arrival to England earlier this week, some British newspapers were filled with outrage at the perception that Biden, who has Irish ancestry and has been critical of Brexit in the past, was unsupportive of the U.K. government's stance.

However, Johnson brushed away such rumors when the two men first met on Thursday, telling media that they were in "complete harmony" over the issues.