By changing his mind on Brexit, Boris Johnson is only fueling the violence

Our Government has signed a binding treaty that it now does not want to comply with (Photo: HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS)

If you thought this government, as it often promised, had ‘done Brexit’, think again.

It has been more than two years since the Prime Minister signed the Northern Ireland Protocol as part of the Withdrawal Agreement, which at the time he called “fantastic news for families and businesses across the UK”.

And yet, now, suddenly, the legal director of his Government, Suella Braverman, considers that the implementation of some of the agreements is “disproportionate and unreasonable.”

As much as ministers say they want to renegotiate, they threaten to break it. What the hell happened?

The bombings, gunshots and seemingly incessant rioting during the Troubles are still fresh in the memory of many Northern Ireland citizens. Peace has finally arrived after years of negotiations, but that peace is incredibly fragile.

An enormous amount of hard work is needed from all sides to maintain the balance and avoid reopening the wounds of past sectarian violence.

Yet this Brexit deal, and subsequent retraction of it, is akin to Boris Johnson driving his infamous forklift through peace in Northern Ireland, then clumsily backing up with big flashing lights, hitting everything in his path. He passed.

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The Conservatives are not only threatening the peace, they are also actively fueling violence. An unnamed senior ally of the prime minister told the Sunday Times: “We want a gun on the table… We don’t want to use it.”

Careless but highly incendiary and dangerous threats like these are not surprising, when senior cabinet ministers such as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are apparently much more interested in ‘fluttering leadership feathers’ than in deal with a whole range of problems that this government has only caused – including the prospect of an open trade war with the EU.

Just as the Governor of the Bank of England warned of an ‘apocalyptic’ rise in food prices.

The crux of the matter here is that our Government has signed a binding treaty which it now does not wish to uphold. The Prime Minister is either incompetent because he didn’t understand the agreement he signed, or misleading because he never intended to follow it in the first place.

I’d bet he knew exactly what the deal amounted to, exactly how much damage it would cause, but he went ahead anyway knowing he’d win an election.

Either way, by doing so, our leaders have once again decided to act with total disregard for the law. Ministers can claim, on a loophole, that breaking the Northern Ireland Protocol does not break international law, but we all know it would make no difference to them anyway.

The architects of Brexit have created the need for the Protocol, now they need to own it

From violating Covid-19 lockdown rules to illegally suspending Parliament, this government is not at all ashamed of breaking the law.

So where are we after all this? There are a lot of issues that we need to deal with right now.

Northern Ireland is facing a health service in need of drastic reform; The UK is facing a cost of living crisis in a enormous scale; Europe is facing an era-defining war in Ukraine and, furthermore, a global climate emergency.

Meanwhile, a misled DUP, which has been convulsed by Brexit and Protocol, claims it has performed “extremely well” despite losing a chunk of its share of the vote.

If we are to have any chance of maintaining the fragile peace in Northern Ireland and getting back to the issues that really matter, we need to get all parties back to the negotiating table and get the Assembly back on track as soon as possible. .

The Ulster Unionist Party is preparing to enter the Executive. So why are DUP Assembly members brazenly taking their salaries while refusing to take their seats, and why is our government giving in to their demands?

The Protocol is not perfect, but it is there to mitigate the worst effects of the harsher Brexit to which this Government signed us.

The architects of Brexit have created the need for the Protocol, now they need to own it.

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