By John Manley (for the Irish News)
It’s somewhat stating the obvious but Joe Biden is not some angry councillor who phones his local paper every week in order to boost his profile.
When the US president makes an intervention he does so having given consideration to what he’ll say and what the consequences of his words might be.
The president’s Irish credentials and his support for the Good Friday Agreement are well documented. He doesn’t need to remind us, just for the sake of it.
President Biden clearly feels that the situation regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol is critical and that responsibility for this lies largely with the British government.
It’s widely acknowledged that there are problems with the protocol but a few myths need to be debunked.
This is not something that was imposed on the British government by the EU but is part of an international agreement they both signed up and designed to overcome the problems caused by Brexit.
It has not led to food shortages, prevented Amazon from delivering packages in the north, or led to a diminution of unionist identity. And for the foreseeable future, it’s the only show in town.
But to listen to Lord Frost and other British government representatives, this whole mess is of the EU’s making, a series of unreasonable rules that Brussels has dreamed up in order to exact revenge on the uppity Brits.
It seems we are trapped in a cycle of claim and counter claim, with recent loyalist street violence being used to cajole the EU into making concessions on the checks that Boris Johnson famously said would never exist.
What President Biden has effectively done is to tell Mr Johnson and Lord Frost to stop with the doublespeak, exaggerations and inflammatory rhetoric. Instead, they need to face up to their responsibilities, stop the gaslighting and help constructively to resolve the issues around the protocol.
Only Joe Biden has the clout to say this with authority and for his administration to speak out publicly shows that patience with London is wearing thin.
Boris Johnson may at times play the fool but he can’t be so stupid that he fails to heed this warning.