Boris Johnson wants to destroy the Northern Ireland Protocol on Brexit

Placeholder when loading article actions

LONDON – Boris Johnson’s government unveiled legislation on Monday that threatens to rip off the central plate of the Brexit agreement itself, which the prime minister celebrated as a victory – an agreement with the European Union that controls the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The highly controversial bill, which came just a week after Johnson survived a no-confidence vote, demanded rejection by European diplomats, the Irish Prime Minister and members of Johnson’s own party, who argued that a unilateral turn would violate international law and trigger a trade war. . with the continent.

The British government is also wary of resistance from the White House and Congress. American politicians, including President Biden, have repeatedly warned Johnson not to do anything that could undermine peace in Northern Ireland. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened that if the prime minister violates the status quo, there will never be a trade agreement with the United States.

Johnson said on Monday that he was in fact trying to keep the peace by moving away from what is known as the “Northern Ireland Protocol” – which he negotiated, concluded and supported in 2020.

Johnson’s critics say he either never read his own deal or never understood it, or simply hoped to outwit the details later.

Fudging was a central theme during his tenure. The House of Commons is investigating whether he lied about riotous parties in his offices and residence on Downing Street during a coronavirus pandemic.

The United Kingdom is investigating whether Boris Johnson lied about the blocking parties

Johnson originally praised the Brexit trade protocol as a subtle compromise – allowing Britain to liberate itself while maintaining the integrity of the EU market and maintaining free flow, which helped consolidate peace on the island of Ireland. He rejected the Northern Unionists’ fears that the agreement would lead to a customs and control regime for goods moving across the Irish Sea.

But now he says it’s important to recognize that unionists feel cut off from the rest of Britain.

He told television stations on Monday: “We need to understand that there are two traditions in Northern Ireland, probably two ways of looking at border issues, and one community is feeling very, very alienated about how things work and very alienated at the moment. And we just have to fix it. “

The new law would remove widespread controls on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland, instead creating “green stripes” with little paperwork and “red stripes” with more control. It also calls for commercial disputes to be settled by “independent arbitration” and not by the European Court of Justice.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin told reporters on Monday: “It is very unfortunate that a country like the United Kingdom has violated an international treaty.”

Martin continued: “I think this represents a new low point, because the natural expectation of democratic countries like us, the United Kingdom and the whole of Europe is that we will abide by the international agreements that we conclude.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was working hard to find a compromise with Europeans.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney defendant the British government proposes “deliberately increasing tensions with the EU seeking compromise”. He said Truss had not met his counterparts since February.

On one level, it’s all about business trivia and paperwork – how hens or eggs or medicines and car parts have to be controlled and taxed when goods pass through the Irish Sea, and how any of those goods enter the common European space. Irish back door market.

At a deeper level, it’s all about the future of the United Kingdom and whether Northern Ireland will remain part of that kingdom or disappear, as Scotland threatens, and a shrinking British state will be created under Johnson or his successors.

At stake: Good Friday Agreement, a 1998 ceasefire that brought peace to Ireland and ended a 30-year sectarian civil strife known as the “Troubles.” The Pact, negotiated in part by the United States, erased the militarized border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and created a restless, dysfunctional but peaceful sharing of power between Unionists and Republicans, Pro-British Protestants and Pro-Irish Catholics in Belfast. .

Belfast unionists are now refusing to participate in power-sharing institutions until the business situation is resolved.

However, on Monday, 52 of the 90 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly signed a letter in which they “most strongly rejected” Johnson’s attempt to rewrite the protocol. Assembly members called his move “ruthless.”

Even in Westminster, some lawmakers on Johnson’s Conservative Party feared it could reopen the Brexit debate and treaties. Critics say Johnson is giving in to extremist elements that threaten violence.

Johnson on Monday called the proposed changes his government was seeking a “trivial adjustment.”

Truss said the new law would “solve the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol and restore political stability.” She said she hoped Brussels would be “willing to change”.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Šefčovič said the UK’s move to unilaterally suppress the Northern Ireland Protocol “is damaging mutual trust and a pattern of uncertainty”.

David Henig, a trade policy expert, said the unresolved problem in Northern Ireland could already have a “chilling effect” on where companies invest and where they are located.

Henig said that while the Biden administration had made it clear, “it could really be enough to have a little more hands.” For example, “there is still no envoy to Northern Ireland and there are no signs that the US is proposing intermediaries or that they can facilitate dialogue.”

Karla Adam contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.