United States Vice President Mike Pence concluded his official visit to the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday. According to a columnist for one major Irish newspaper, he left behind a mess by stating he and Donald Trump fully support Brexit and current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In fact, Irish Times political commentator Miriam Lord compared Pence to a guest whose visit appears at first to have gone well, “until somebody discovers he s**t on the new carpet in the spare room.”
“As the deadline for Brexit approaches we urge Ireland and the European Union, as well, to negotiate in good faith with Prime Minister Johnson,” Pence told Irish Taoiseach, or prime minister, Leo Varadkar, reading from a prepared statement. Pence went on to urge the Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the United Kingdom, to help reach a Brexit deal that “respects the United Kingdom’s sovereignty,” according to The Guardian.
Brexit — the upcoming withdrawal of the U.K. from the European Union — has been an issue of urgent concern in Ireland because Northern Ireland remains U.K. territory. Currently, no significant border controls exist between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland thanks to the 1998 “Good Friday Agreement” that effectively ended decades of sectarian violence and terrorism, according to a BBC summary.
But a “no deal” or “hard” Brexit of the type advocated by Johnson would again create a protected border between the two Irish countries, a development that could lead to a return of Northern Ireland’s violent “troubles,” as The Irish Times has reported.
Reestablishing a “hard” Ireland-Northern Ireland border is adamantly opposed by the government of Ireland. But according to The Irish Times columnist, Pence “delivered a very strong endorsement of Boris Johnson and Brexit,” adding that Pence made it “clear he was channeling His Master’s Voice. Trump is a fan of Brexit and of Boris.”
After Pence’s call for Ireland and the EU to negotiate with the U.K. “in good faith” over Brexit, Lord asked what Pence believes the EU “has been doing for the last three years” other than “negotiating in good faith.”
Lord was not a lone voice in attacking Pence’s visit to Ireland. Irish Examiner political editor Daniel McConnell accused Pence of “trying to humiliate” Ireland with his unqualified endorsement of Brexit and Johnson, who announced that he will visit the Ireland capital of Dublin next week.
Noting that Pence’s statement backing Johnson and Brexit came immediately after Varadkar had requested Pence bring Trump a message that a no-deal Brexit would be “disastrous” for Ireland, McConnell wrote of Pence, “How dare he? The cheek of him coming here, eating our food, clogging up our roads and then having the nerve to humiliate his hosts.”