Gove's letter to Commission about NI Protocol is deeply insulting - worthy successor to Trump's truth-twisting method of treating international diplomacy with same contempt & dishonesty as domestic politics. But cut through the propaganda & what do we learn? Voila, short thread:
1) Brexit was always going to cause serious problems for NI - as UK parliamentary committees and myriad experts predicted. But Tories and DUP simply lied their way through the entire withdrawal process / negotiations - claiming those problems didn't exist / had easy solutions.
2) When reality finally hit home, ie Tory Hard Brexit threatened hard border & therefore GFA, May sought to minimise the damage. But ERG, DUP et al did everything they could to destroy her solution. Then PM Johnson stabbed DUP in back by imposing alternative: the current Protocol
3) Crystal clear since initial publication of Protocol in Oct 2019? It is inherent in the arrangements Johnson proposed and agreed to, that NI would be legally and economically segregated from rest of UK. That was price to be paid for Tory Hard Brexit & Johnson happily paid it.
4) But having dumped DUP and sacrificed NI to "get Brexit done", UK Gov has since done everything they can a) to deny that any of problems affecting NI are their direct responsibility and b) to undo their own Protocol by trying to undermine its operation / unpick its core rules
5) E.g. repeated public lies about Irish Sea checks. E.g. publishing late and half-baked implementation plans. E.g. refusing EU permission to maintain presence in Belfast. But most of all: explicit and conscious threats to breach legally binding obligations under Protocol.
6) For many, such behaviour provided reasonable evidence that Johnson signed Protocol in bad faith - with no intention of ever properly respecting it, just biding time for excuse to reopen talks & revert to previous fantasies about "alternative arrangements" blah blah blah
7) So - when Commission & UK Gov reached agreement in December 2020 to adjust Protocol / drop Johnson's threats to breach it: some naive souls thought it was genuine; but others argued it was just another Tory tactic to get EU-UK trade/cooperation agreement done & avoid "no deal"
8) Since then: the problems affecting NI have indeed started to materialise. They were not unforeseen. They are not glitches. They were the inevitable and clearly predicted consequences of Johnson's decision to segregate NI from GB in order to deliver Tory's Extremist Brexit
9) Against that background: yes, EU was clumsy & insensitive to propose, albeit quickly retract, idea of "vaccine border". But UK Gov+DUP have clearly seized on this as opportunity they were waiting for: forget all those Brexit lies, obstacles & threats... Everything is EU fault!
10) Under guise of blaming EU for everything Brexit is doing to NI, Gove's letter = further evidence that UK Gov agreed to arrangements it had no serious & honest intention of ever actually respecting? In any case: UK certainly trying to unpick core parts of Protocol once again
11) I'm all for recognising unique situation of NI & need for reasonable flexibility in operation of Protocol. Problem is: that's not what Brexit fanatics really want. They're still living in denial about inevitable damage their Hard Brexit must to do NI & its relations with GB
12) We know UK Gov and DUP will never accept reality and take responsibility; they'll just continue to lie, obstruct and throw blame. Yet if they don't want the Protocol, they need to tell us what the alternative will be, and there are only 4 options to choose from, no others:
13) Those options are:
a UK asks to rejoin Custom Union+Single Market as third country
b UK asks to rejoin EU as Member State
c Northern Ireland rejoins EU through reunification with Republic
d Hard border, threat to GFA, risk of civil conflict
So, Tories / DUP: which one is it?
14) I always said: NI would be among primary victims of Brexit fanatics. Damage is already bad enough & will soon get worse. What Tory + DUP cultists have done so far is shameful. But it is beyond unconscionable that they now deliberately aggravate an already dangerous situation

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More from @mdouganlpool

5 Feb
Lots of questions: what would I do about Northern Ireland and the “Protocol crisis”? Happy to offer a few thoughts as follows:
1) Let's set aside longer term solutions (UK rejoins EU, Irish reunification) & unacceptable outcome (hard border). Only option left= make Protocol work. Above all, that requires trust. Which requires honesty. Which has been sorely lacking from Tories/DUP. But honesty about what?
2) Honesty about fact that NI’s problems are directly determined by choices about overall EU-UK relationship. UK closer to EU = problems diminish. UK further from EU = problems amplify. Johnson chose a very Hard Brexit. So problems facing NI were inevitably going to be serious.
Read 13 tweets
8 Jan
Lots of questions about impact of Brexit on NI & prospects for reunification with Ireland... A political question beyond my specific scientific qualifications, though on which I am as entitled to hold an informed opinion as anyone else. So here are a few thoughts:
1) Whole point of GFA was to create environment in which cross-community relations could be improved under conditions of relative peace & stability. Even regardless of immediate economic damage of Johnson's new trade border, Brexit has already undermined that longterm goal. How?
2) Even if GFA never technically required UK to remain in the EU, the conditions for effective peace process substantially depended on common UK and IRL membership. Anything but softest of soft Brexits was bound to be a problem. So Tories' extremist Brexit is especially damaging.
Read 8 tweets
30 Dec 20
After my first reading of the draft EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement, here is a short thread with some initial thoughts:
1) this is a massive and complex document, covering very diverse & highly specialist fields. No single person could ever plausibly claim properly to master/understand it. So I’ve focused on my own (“big picture”) interests. Not, eg the (in fact marginal) details of fishing quotas
2) Let’s start with how draft treaty is being framed by UK Gov & client press. They compare it to “no deal” & thus treat it as some sort of triumph. Well: even on own terms, that is far from accurate: for many sectors, draft treaty is barely better than no deal at all
Read 15 tweets
7 Dec 20
Lots of requests for a "step-by-step" guide to where we are with the EU-UK negotiations.

So here you go - short thread summarising the essential context & key points / issues:
1) UK formally left EU in January 2020 but entered a "transition period" during which nothing very much changed: meant to give time for negotiations over future EU-UK relationship in fields like trade and security; based on "Political Declaration" as agreed by Johnson Government
2) Political Declaration envisaged only distant EU-UK relationship: partly logical consequence of Theresa May's longstanding "red lines" on free movement etc; but also result of renewed political preference, by Johnson Government, for even more extreme "clean break Brexit"
Read 16 tweets
8 Nov 20
Taking part in the pan-Liverpool mass testing scheme was dead easy: in and out in 15 mins; result by text within an hour.
It's not for me to say whether this scheme offers great promise or suffers whatever flaws. When a bona fide call comes - aux armes, citoyens - it's a civic duty to answer.
A negative result means: carry on obeying the rules that help keep people safe. Which is exactly what I'll do. My fellow scientists will learn whatever lessons need to be learned from the scheme. To the benefit of us all.
Read 4 tweets
30 Sep 20
As UKIM Bill makes its way to Lords, what could be done to improve it, so far as devolution is concerned?

Even accepting it’s probably going to pass, there is still considerable room for improvement. So: what changes might at least help lessen problems?

A few brief thoughts:
1) replace current proposals based on directly enforceable legal rights, with system of pre-legislative dialogue between UK authorities, ie to identify & discuss / address potential trade barriers. So: notify relevant proposals then find (preferably consensus) political solution
2) mutual recognition / non-discrimination are important principles & should provide reference point for that pre-legislative discussion – but only a reference point. They are not overriding objectives and they are should not be treated as (near) absolutes (as current Bill does)
Read 11 tweets

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