Margaret Thatcher once voiced regret at having signed the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement that gave the government of Ireland an official consultative role in the affairs of the North. “It was the pressure from the Americans that made me sign the agreement,” she confessed to adviser Alistair McAlpine.
Boris Johnson, who recently expressed the wish to remain as British prime minister longer than Mrs Thatcher’s 11 years, would do well to remember her deeds as well as her words and be aware of the powerful Irish lobby in the US that stretches all the way to the White House.
On his current visit to the US, he has been told in no uncertain terms by president Joe Biden that any dilution of the Northern Ireland protocol will not be tolerated.
Mr Biden warned, not for the first time, that peace in the North must not be jeopardised as a result of complications from Brexit.
Mr Johnson said they were “at one” on the issue and nobody wanted to see anything that would interrupt or imbalance the Good Friday Agreement.
He may have no choice but to appear “at one” with Mr Biden while on US soil, but will also know the unwavering stance of the president means he must do as he says.
Mr Biden has yet to visit Ireland as president so we may not know, until he does, whether he is a true friend.
But there is little doubt he is a strong ally and when it comes to dealing with our nearest neighbour on difficult issues, allies are more important than friends.