In its latest efforts to upset the rest of Europe as spectacularly as possible, the UK government launched new plans on Monday to override a key deal it was reached with the European Union – after tortuous negotiations – just three years ago.
This unorthodox move has been said to threaten the integrity of the European Union (EU); amalgamation of Great Britain; and even sabotage the peace process on the island of Ireland.
Boris Johnson — a prime minister narrowly survived a vote of no confidence after attending a series of lockout parties in Downing Street — saw this scammer transform differently, describing his explosive legislation as “a set of relatively trivial tweaks”.
Trouble has revolved around what to do for Northern Ireland for months. Now, it seems, Johnson’s solution to breaking the deadlock is to scrap parts of a part of the deal known as the Northern Ireland Protocol. His Secretary of State, Liz Truss, is expected to introduce legislation that could replace parts of the Protocol into parliament on Monday.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is a trade agreement that regulates how goods enter Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK after Brexit. It was agreed between the UK and the EU in 2019 and is designed to prevent a hard border being placed between the Republic of Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (in the UK). This was crucial to preserving a 1998 peace agreement that ended decades of major sectarian violence in the region. Instead of a hard border, customs checks were applied to goods moving from the UK to Northern Ireland.
But in effect, that divided Great Britain by creating a border on the Sea of Ireland between mainland England and Northern Ireland. Communities in Northern Ireland absolutely hate the deal, saying it effectively pushes them out of the UK and some UK companies have even cut ties with Northern Irish businesses due to the paperwork new. Pro-London lawmakers in Northern Ireland have even blocked important functions of Stormont, the council developed in the region, until “action” is taken on the protocol. And the controversy has also outraged Conservative politicians in Westminster. Johnson is now looking to appease their need for change.
The thing is, he does so by throwing away the deal he made with the EU just three years ago. The EU refused to move to a new negotiation, citing the fact that Johnson have agreed to the existing arrangements. Brussels is also concerned about the integrity of the EU itself if it cannot control what enters its single market trading bloc. So, with the EU opposed to any changes to the Protocol, it seems likely that Johnson will try to change the deal unilaterally — a move that some critics say could violate the law. international law and severely damaged Britain’s reputation on the world stage.
“It is a bureaucratic change that needs to be made. Honestly, it’s a bunch of relatively small tweaks,” Johnson said in an LBC radio interview on Monday. “All we’re trying to do is have some bureaucratic simplification between the UK and Northern Ireland.” On the other hand, the Irish government called Johnson’s proposed action “deeply damaging”, which would represent a “low point” in his approach to Brexit.
Proposed legislation to replace the Protocol will still need to be passed by the UK Parliament, which could take months. But if successful, the consequences for the UK, Ireland and the EU could be huge. London’s relationship with Washington could also become strained as Biden has repeatedly made clear that peace in Northern Ireland is a personal priority.