Back to work = time to scrutinise the UK’s proposals (published 21 July 2021) for rewriting the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Here is a short(ish) thread with some thoughts:
1) Let’s start with the UK’s diagnosis of the problems created by the Protocol. According to HMG, this terrible deal was inflicted upon poor Prime Minister Johnson as he valiantly battled on all fronts against domestic traitors and foreign adversaries.
2) What a disgraceful denial of responsibility: it was the Johnson Government that proposed a trade border down the Irish Sea, not as some temporary backstop but as a permanent regime, in order to pursue the Hard Right dream of a Hard Brexit for the rest of the UK.
3) More than that: the Protocol was the only major change Johnson made to the Withdrawal Agreement previously signed by the May Government. It was absolutely central to the “great new Brexit deal” that won him a general election and that he passed through Parliament in triumph.
4) Now, though, HMG is eager to list the adverse economic impacts of its own Protocol. We are shocked to find this deal has led to extra paperwork, altered supply chains, new restrictions. And we are horrified to learn that NI is buying less from GB & trading more with Ireland.
5) Except, of course, we're not shocked at all. Every single one of those impacts was foreseen by commentators (including yours truly) at the time the draft Protocol was published. And every single one is a direct consequence of the precise terms approved by Johnson & Parliament.
6) If anything, the actions of HMG have only made the Protocol’s impacts worse than they might otherwise have been, eg deliberately lying to traders about the true nature of the preparations they had to make; actively fostering unionist discontent and mistrust of the EU etc.
7) Indeed, this paper continues in same vein. Gleeful reminders of EU’s vaccine blunder–but no mention of HMG’s prolonged plans to legislate in direct contravention of agreement, refusal to produce adequate implementation plans, unilateral breach of its treaty obligations...
8) So much for the diagnosis. What about UK proposal to rewrite Protocol? The flaw are obvious. Borders exist to protect the public interest. Neither is threatened by compliant traders, rather by unscrupulous ones. So any system that hinges on “honesty” is inherently flawed.
9) To be fair, UK also promises greater enforcement. But EU has already entrusted protection of its public interest, at its borders, to UK. Latter is now proposing a far, far greater degree of dependence & vulnerability. Yet HMG has hardly proven itself deserving of such trust.
10) So no surprise UK proposals fell on stony ground. Of course, EU is right to stress principle that UK should respect legal obligations it voluntarily entered into only short time ago. After all, it's a fundamental pillar upon which the entire international order is built.
11) But UK motives deserve greater cynicism. These proposals stink of Johnson’s tedious “cake and eat it” arrogance. HMG wants its purist idea of sovereignty + its Hard Brexit – but doesn’t want to deal with adverse consequences of those selfish choices for the island of Ireland.
12) As we all know: the border where EU law & UK jurisdiction now meet must go somewhere. If not between IRL & NI, then between GB & NI. But seems the Brexitists still simply refuse to believe or accept that that is the direct and unavoidable price to be paid for their extremism.
13) This UK paper reinforces already strong suspicions that the Johnson Regime negotiated and signed its own Withdrawal Agreement in bad faith – only so they could claim to “get Brexit done” but with no sincere intention of honouring their word and fulfilling their duties.
14) In any case, this UK paper certainly fuels belief that NI & its peace process are now being instrumentalised by Johnson Regime: either as a proxy in its wider strategy of stoking confrontation with the EU; or as leverage to secure concessions and advantages in other fields.
15) What about HMG’s reserve threat to invoke Art 16 safeguard clause? Persistent refusal to implement Protocol in good faith undermines any UK claim to clean hands. And since problems identified by HMG are largely direct & foreseeable consequence of Protocol’s core provisions...
16) ... it seems difficult for Johnson to argue that those problems justify action amounting to an indefinite alteration or suspension of those very same provisions. Otherwise, Art 16 is converted into a unilateral power for the UK to amend / abolish core parts of the Protocol.

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More from @mdouganlpool

May 12
"Braverman said the EU was undermining the Good Friday agreement by creating a trade barrier in the Irish Sea".

Liar.

Johnson:
- proposed that trade barrier
- won general election with his "great Brexit deal"
- signed it under international law
- passed it through Parliament
"Braverman has advised that [overriding Protocol] would be legal because [EU approach] was disproportionate and unreasonable"

Clueless liar.

EU asks UK to respect its own *clear & unambiguous* treaty rules. UK's initial bad faith, or later regrets, can't make something "legal".
"Braverman said [EU and Protocol were] fuelling civil unrest" echoing Truss' line that "this is matter of internal peace and security"

Totally outrageous.

Gravest threat to peace in NI comes from DUP + Johnson Government, directly stirring unrest against wishes of people in NI.
Read 4 tweets
May 10
DUP demanded but were denied formal veto over application of Protocol. Their tantrums are designed to destroy a system they cannot dictate over. If Truss acquiesces, for sake of her own vain ambition, I hope EU & US teach UK a hard lesson in respect for law, peace, trust, honour.
Will Truss have credible alternative to avoid hard border across Ireland, to replace Protocol she supported then destroys? Of course not. Tories hope EU & IRL will just sacrifice own territorial integrity for sake of Brexit. Painfully wrong. Johnson Regime risks disaster upon NI.
Meanwhile, Putin must be clapping with delight. Brexit continues to serve his interests well: using NI as plaything, Johnson Regime actively seeks to create Western tension & disunity, to make mockery of international law & order, and to endorse governance by lies & propaganda.
Read 4 tweets
May 7
It's beyond frustrating that the DUP seem determined to inflict a state of perpetual manufactured crisis upon NI. The Protocol is the fruit of their own machinations: they defied NI's will on Brexit & cynically plotted with English nationalists against NI's own interests. Yet...
... it's also frustrating to hear so many outside voices hype up talk of border polls & Irish reunification. Lots well-meaning; some seeing NI as a proxy to "punish" England for its Brexit madness; others using NI to stoke fears about "UK under threat" to help bolster Johnson...
... When what NI needs most is stability & leadership. Not just to address serious challenges like truly dire state of NHS. Also because key aim of GFA = to dedramatise border & identity tensions, create space for constructive collaboration, foster gradual integration. Of course:
Read 5 tweets
Apr 24
Mind you, today = also a good reminder: there is no idiot greater than the self-declared thorough-bred "socialist", so consumed with hostility towards anyone not quite so pure in leftist spirit, they'd rather see Le Pen in power than Macron. Or Johnson before Starmer. Jesus wept.
Some interesting responses to this one. And in reply, a few added observations from me.

1) if you think anyone who doesn't agree with your own version of "left", or who didn't support Corbyn, must therefore be a "centrist" or "right wing", you're only proving my point. Merci.
2) if you think supporting Corbyn made you a radical leftist, you're rather mistaken. Nationalising the trains & decent welfare for the vulnerable isn't revolutionary Marxism. It's just mainstream European social democracy. Only in post-Thatcher UK, huh... Or the US, of course.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 12
One must admire, albeit with held-nose, the capacity of hard rightists to contort every situation to their own worldview - no matter how jumbled, contradictory or divorced from reality. Here are a few things I "learned" today:
1) it's quite easy to morph from Putin-the-Strongman worshipper into Putin-the-Victim apologist. Trying to convert to anti-Putinism is trickier: wot, you mean... allying with, rather than bashing, all those lefties and liberals that actually make up "the West"?!?!
2) Because it turns out, the tragedy in Ukraine really is all about us. For example: it was the evil EU wot provoked poor Putin into this. And now the evil EU fuels the war on. Depending on who you ask, either by funding Putin, or by arming Ukrainian "fascists" (sic).
Read 7 tweets
Feb 2
We usually assume that these never-ending scandals must be a "bad thing" for the neo-Tories. Certainly, they seem not to understand / care about the depths of contempt their behaviour inspires across a large part of the population. But things aren't necessarily so clear cut...
First & less important: a bloated narcissist on the monstrous scale occupied by Johnson must be simply thrilled that the UK's entire national life, attention and debate is dominated by stories about him. He's not in power for us or for the country. Just to hear his own name.
Secondly & more important: hard right populism thrives on cynicism and alienation. They take it for granted that millions will despise them. But we're not their audience. Every new wave of lies & corruption feeds their dangerous narrative: "they're all the same, leave them to it"
Read 4 tweets

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