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Vice President Mike Pence heads to the United Kingdom on Thursday, with a list of items to discuss.
He, like President Donald Trump, supports Brexit and wants a U.S.-U.K. trade deal afterwards, the idea being to try and soften the economic blow of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union.
There’s a limit to what can be negotiated at this point, however. Firstly, the U.K. is is still part of the European Union and, as such, may not negotiate unilaterally. Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Congress won’t pass any trade deal if Brexit undermines the Good Friday Agreement. That’s the U.S.-brokered agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland. Many observers fear that a hard Brexit, which could bring back strict border controls between the Republic of Ireland and the U.K. province of Northern Ireland, could threaten the region’s stability.
A second major issue considered important by the U.S. is the influence of China and Huawei in the U.K. The U.S. would prefer the U.K. bar Chinese companies like Huawei from building its 5G infrastructure. The U.K. has delayed making a decision. There are signs, however, that the present government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, may be more amenable to U.S. requests than that of his predecessor, Theresa May.
These and other issues will be discussed under a cloud of severe political turmoil in Britain, as the PM prepares to suspend Parliament in hopes of pursuing Brexit.