Lots of requests for a step-by-step explanation of Johnson's plans to breach Protocol on Irish border.

No problem. And by the end, you'll understand why this man is totally unfit to hold public office.

1) For Ireland (north and south) May's red lines / decision to leave Customs Union & Single Market transformed Brexit from "problem" into "crisis": customs & regulatory checks on goods have to take place somewhere; if across Ireland = serious economic, social & political impacts
2) When May came to realise this, she sought to minimise damage of own policy by proposing temporary solution (the infamous "backstop"): whole UK would remain in effective customs union with EU; but some regulatory checks would happen on movement of goods between GB and NI
3) Brexit Loons went bonkers: May's backstop would stop them pursuing long- & dear-held plans to deregulate UK social and welfare standards; & hinder their (laughable) fantasy that "Global Britain" would revolutionise the terms of world trade in its own favour
4) having ousted May, Johnson renegotiated withdrawal deal specifically on Irish border: NI & it alone would remain subject to wide range of EU customs and regulatory rules - with extensive checks on trade in goods between GB and NI; and not just on temporary but permanent basis
5) Johnson's new Protocol was clear & specific about fact that NI will be subject to entirely distinct rules from GB (including eg powers for various EU institutions to decide about NI issues); & that this= significant barriers for NI goods into GB but especially GB goods into NI
6) with NI dumped by the wayside, Brexit Loons were delighted: now free to deregulate UK & sign trade deals with Trump etc. Johnson sold this as his "Great New Brexit Deal" in the election & then passed it through Parliament. Though he was already lying about it even by then...
7) but all along, we warned of real risk that Johnson had only signed his “oven ready deal” to win general election. Having done so, real plan would be to tear up withdrawal treaty, including own NI border plan, ruin talks on future EU-UK relations & blame EU for resulting mess
8) Which is precisely what Johnson went on to do. From outset, made mockery of talks on future relations & also ruled out transition extension = heading for no deal Brexit (on top of pandemic). And very quickly, made clear he would do everything possible to undermine border plans
9) Eg refusing permission for EU to even have an office in Belfast. But culminating in UK Internal Market Bill – which clearly, deliberately and consciously empowers Johnson directly and without any ambiguity to breach two key parts of his own legally binding Withdrawal Agreement
10) First: UKIM Bill empowers UK to ignore controls on goods leaving NI for GB. From point of view of “hard border” that is less serious than if he proposed ignoring controls on goods leaving GB for NI: after all, goods are heading away from EU so no risk of harming Single Market
11) But this is still serious stuff: not only a clear breach of the legally binding withdrawal treaty; also raises questions about WTO compliance if UK is not treating all trading partners equally; & of course makes NI a smuggler and fraudster’s paradise for access into entire UK
12) Secondly: UKIM Bill empowers UK to ignore EU rules that would prevent unlawfully subsidised goods entering Single Market via NI. From “hard border” perspective this is very serious: UK effectively letting NI act as backdoor to engage in unfair dumping of British goods into EU
13) To the Brexit Loons, Johnson’s behaviour might look like it delivers on all the things they ever really wanted: teach Ireland a lesson; scupper relations with EU for years to come; totally free to deregulate UK & realign with hard right allies like the vile Trump
14) But in real world: Johnson’s plans are a serious violation of his own Withdrawal Agreement; resurrect fears of a hard border in Ireland; damage EU-UK talks on future relations in trade and security; undermine rules-based international order; & harm UK reputation and interests
15) And Johnson’s attempts to justify his plans are so grossly dishonest (indeed, offensive) that it confirms him & his regime as full-scale post-truth populists of the most degenerate variety. A risk to peace and stability in Ireland. And a growing threat to UK democracy.

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More from @mdouganlpool

13 Sep
Johnson’s UK Internal Market Bill is crucial not just because of proposals to break international law on Irish border. Also for its impact on devolution & governance of entire UK.

So: another step-by-step guide to key issues arising from Johnson's plans.

1) Regulation of internal UK trade wasn’t much of a problem until Brexit. When UK joined EU, there was no devolution. When devolution happened, EU rules helped structure operation of UK market. Only a few issues ever bubbled up as points of tension, eg university tuition fees
2) But Brexit now makes it important to decide how regulatory differences across UK will impact on trade in goods and services. If Scotland has different rules on X or Y or Z, how far should those different rules prevent English goods / services being sold / provided in Scotland?
Read 14 tweets
11 Sep
Interesting question: is "minimum price" a product requirement subject to mutual recognition; or a selling arrangement subject to non-discrimination?

The Bill is not entirely explicit on this. But for me: price controls are naturally characterised as product requirements. Why?
Cl 3 on MR concerns rules compliance with which is an essential condition for placing that particular good on the market eg composition, packaging, labelling, accompanying documentation or anything else that must be done to / in relation to a good before it is allowed to be sold
Cl 6 on ND concerns rules that do not prescribe the characteristics of the particular good itself, but instead regulate its place or manner of sale eg licensed premises, age requirements, permitted advertising; as well as other indirect requirements like transportation or storage
Read 8 tweets
11 Sep
I hope my previous hypothetical examples prove useful, in terms of getting a flavour of the UK Internal Market Bill's intended principles and effects.

Now: some key overall lessons to draw from those examples, in a final short thread...
1) Bill’s principles are largely prospective: they generally don’t apply to existing rules. But Bill does kick in when existing provisions are amended in any significant way. That already creates a significant disincentive to engage in legal reform / innovation
2) where Bill does apply, its rules are based on a very strong market dynamic: wide scope of application, extensive guarantees of market access capable of overriding / bypassing local regulatory choices, only limited exclusions / scope for justification
Read 7 tweets
11 Sep
Working on UK Internal Market Bill? I'll post a few threads containing (hypothetical) examples to help illustrate how it might operate in practice

1st: “Scotland has rules on minimum alcohol pricing but now wants to introduce a higher minimum price/ change basis for calculation”
a) the UKIM rules are largely prospective, ie do not apply to existing rules regulating sale of goods unless those rules are substantially amended. So need to decide whether change in price would be significant amendment; though change in basis of calculation surely would be?
b) assuming amendments are substantial, will be governed by UKIM principles. Price control would be classified as a product requirement and therefore subject to principle of mutual recognition, i.e. imported English alcohol does not have to comply with new Scottish requirements
Read 6 tweets
10 Sep
I've spent my adult life in a state of contented coexistence between the very different & potentially conflictual parts of my background and identity - almost a model child of the peace process & the historical reconciliation achieved between Ireland and the UK within the EU. So:
... while I was never going to be anything but repulsed by Brexit's vulgar nationalism or Johnson's gross dishonesty, I now find myself fundamentally troubled by the way this Hard Right Tory Regime is plotting a deliberate course to destabilise my beloved Northern Ireland...
... devotes such spite and energy in seeking to undermine the alliance of liberal social market democracies that make up the European Union, and is actively assaulting the basic values and institutions that reflect the best of what the UK represented both to itself & in the world
Read 4 tweets
9 Sep
As promised, a second thread on the UKGov's Bill on the UK Internal Market - this time, focusing on the provisions relevant to the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. Voila:
For the avoidance of any doubt: the Bill is utterly shameless in explicitly empowering the UKGov directly, deliberately and consciously to breach the UK’s legally binding international obligations under its very own Withdrawal Agreement & Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland
First point: UKGov’s unionist bias is absolutely overt, eg explicit duties for all public bodies to approach every question about Protocol based on overriding goal of protecting NI’s status in the UK. Nothing, eg about need to protect peace & stability or to avoid hard border?!?!
Read 7 tweets

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