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Northern Ireland protocol: Boris Johnson’s decision to do battle with the EU is a cynical ploy against the national interest Comment from a Scot




There has always been a danger that politicians elected on a Brexit ticket will seek, especially in troubled times, to do battle with their old enemies, the Brussels bureaucrats, to rekindle the passions of their supporters.

But there are several reasons why this would be strongly against the national interest.

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The protocol appears to be problematic, causing too much friction in trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland. But the EU has made a number of suggestions on how to improve the situation. These may not be good enough, but they show that he takes the issue seriously and is willing to talk about it.

However, on the UK side, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has ordered officials to draft legislation that would remove the need to screen all goods shipped across the Irish Sea in clear breach of protocol.

Given the need to avoid checks at the Irish border, this would pose a threat to the integrity of the EU’s single market, which Brussels must take seriously. This is why there are sincere fears that the UK’s actions could trigger a trade war with the EU.

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Boris Johnson’s threat to the EU over Northern Ireland is “self-absorption and self-…

If this happened, it would add to our current considerable economic problems and would also create a division between European democracies at a time when they must unite against Vladimir Putin.

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Boris Johnson must drop anti-EU rhetoric and find a compromise with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol (Photo: Matt Dunham/WPA pool/Getty Images)

And the mere threat to unilaterally tear up the protocol shows that the UK government cares little about the rule of law.

Johnson’s government signed that international deal, but is now threatening to go back on its word. Ministers essentially send the message that they cannot be trusted, just as their colleagues travel the world trying to get other countries to sign trade deals.

Trade officials in those countries will take notice of such attitudes, while their Foreign Office assessments of Johnson’s character are likely to make for uncomfortable reading.

The UK needs a government that sees the EU as a friend, not an enemy. If Johnson cynically continues to replay old wars to shore up support, that’s yet another reason why he should leave.




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