THE UK Government has played down suggestions that ministers are awaiting the result of the US election before deciding to press ahead with a no-deal Brexit amid fears it could ruin trans-Atlantic links with Joe Biden.

Mr Biden, who polls suggest is on track to become the next US president, has warned he will refuse to sign a free trade agreement with the UK if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined by any Brexit deal.

Senior Democrats in the United States have widely criticised legislation going through Parliament giving ministers the power to override elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland, even though the Government has admitted it breaches international law.

Mr Biden was vice president when Barack Obama warned in 2016 that the UK would go to the “back of the queue” for a trade deal if it left the EU and – unlike Donald Trump – is known to be no fan of Brexit.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis however insisted Britain would continue to work closely with the US, whoever won the election, and said the UK Internal Market Bill was designed to protect the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, he said: “We absolutely protect and abide by the Good Friday Agreement. It is absolutely key.

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“We have always worked very closely with whoever is the president of the USA. We as a country have a long, special relationship to build on, on a wide range of issues across history.

“One of them is the work we have done together – and with the Irish government – to ensure we got that Belfast-Good Friday Agreement. We will continue to protect that.

Senior European figures have suggested that Boris Johnson is awaiting the result of next month’s US election before gauging whether it is wise to pursue a no-deal Brexit.

Ivan Rogers, a former UK permanent representative to Brussels said that many officials and ministers across Europe believe Mr Johnson is more likely to press ahead with a no-deal strategy if Donald Trump is re-elected.

He told The Observer: “Several very senior sources in capitals have told me they believe Johnson will await clarity on the presidential election result before finally deciding whether to jump to ‘no deal’ with the EU, or to conclude that this is just too risky with Biden heading for the White House, and hence live with some highly suboptimal (for Johnson) skinny free-trade agreement.”

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Mr Lewis indicated there is “a good chance” a Brexit deal can be struck as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is to stay on in London this week to continue trade talks.

The talks had been expected to switch to Brussels but it is reported that Mr Barnier is to remain in the UK until Wednesday – in part because of the high coronavirus infection rates in the Belgian capital.

Mr Lewis insisted it was a positive development but warned the EU will still need to give up ground if an agreement between the two parties is to be reached.

He said: “The fact that Michel Barnier has outlined in the last week or so that they are going to come back and do these intensive negotiations, he recognises the EU do need to move, and that he is staying through to next week, is hopefully a very good sign.

“We have got to make sure that it is a deal that works not just for our partners in Europe – we want to have a very good relationship with them obviously – but one that works for the United Kingdom.

“I think there is a good chance that we can get a deal but the EU need to understand that it is for them to move as well.”