There is one thing on which the Westminster Government and the European Commission can agree on: the Protocol needs revisiting. But any deal will bring the usual response from the DUP (shouting “NO” very slowly, loudly and deliberately) while causing the ERG - the intolerant and reality-free headbanger wing of the Tory party - to approach spontaneous combustion.
Why the Protocol won’t be fixed to the satisfaction of Tories and the DUP can be seen from the Telegraph. “Under the proposed deal, almost all goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be able to enter a ‘green lane’ where they would face almost no checks … The ECJ would be put at arms length, with disputes referred up via either a panel or the Northern Irish courts. However, it would retain the power to hand down binding judgments”.
So the ECJ would still be there, as would be expected, given that the Protocol is part of ensuring no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. A hard border goes against the Belfast Accords, and just to add a little more spice to proceedings, those accords depend on the ECHR being present, too.
So there will be no abolition or even amendment of the Human Rights Act. And instant dissatisfaction for those like Peter Bone, who has said “Rishi must not compromise on the basic principles of Brexit, nor in any way get the European Court of Justice involved”. It will be involved: an unnamed EU diplomat confirmed of the ECJ “that would not be part of the deal”.
The DUP will also be disappointed: “A DUP source said they ‘can't see any way’ that the party could agree to a deal that does not end ‘the direct application of EU law overseen by a foreign court’”. Sunak has been bequeathed an insoluble problem by disgraced former occasional Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who lied to cover up the cracks.
Bozo told anyone who would listen that there would be no checks on any goods going purely from Britain to Northern Ireland or visa versa. It was another example of him lying to get through that day’s news cycle. Sunak might think he can have a deal done by the time Joe Biden visits in April, but his own party won’t let him cut it. Because they cannot face reality.
The Guardian’s front page report shows an excellent example of this tendency: “David Jones, deputy chair of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, said he was waiting for details before deciding ‘whether or not whatever deal is proposed is acceptable, not only to the people of Northern Ireland but the people of Britain as a whole’”.
Speaks for us all, does he? How does he know that? Supernatural powers? A line to the Almighty? Consulting the I-Ching? Jones is closer to Upminster than Barking, and Sunak faces getting whatever he and James Cleverly negotiate past him and his ERG pals. Meanwhile, Bozo the opportunist hovers in the background: the Guardian mentions a possible “intervention”.
Where does the delusion emanate from? One look at today’s Daily Mail editorial answers that one. “For [the deal] to stand any chance of success, however, the agreement must be one which, above all, upholds the integrity of the United Kingdom. That means removing the Irish Sea border as well as keeping the European Court of Justice firmly out of our affairs”.
“Removing the Irish Sea border” would mean a hard border on the island of Ireland, and as has been shown, the ultimate backstop of the ECJ is non-negotiable. So when the Mail drivels “If Mr Sunak can broker such an arrangement which keeps the Brussels bureaucrats happy, while at the same time respecting Northern Irish sovereignty, it could prove be a defining moment in the early part of his premiership”, it knows it’s talking crap.
When our free and fearless press can’t get its collective heads round things like reality, it is no surprise that Tory hardliners follow their lead. Sunak could make things easier for the Northern Irish business community, while alienating the DUP and turning many in his own party against him.
The opposition need do nothing - just watch the Tories self-destruct.
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