The voice of sanity over the Protocol is drowned in Tory leadership Brexit frenzy

  Although by instinct I prefer to hunt for the substance behind political attitudes however perverse they seem, I’m reduced to calling the latest on the Protocol –   bonkers, plain and not so simple. The Tory leadership fight has tipped it into the surreal. First in a dash to complete his legacy, Johnson rushed to complete the Protocol Bill’s early Commons stages on the last full day on Thursday. Then it’s over to Lords in September and a new government. …

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How wise is it to play Protocol poker with a weak hand everybody can see?

What do you suppose Boris Johnson is up to with his on the face of it, kamikaze tactics over the Protocol Bill?  By pursuing the most aggressive line he seems determined to court a confrontation with the EU.  Can he be serious, even as a survival strategy? As Peston points out, where Johnson is on shaky ground is that within the Protocol there is explicit provision to suspend it, where there are ‘societal difficulties… liable to persist’ via its Article …

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It’s still worth taking a punt on Boris. This time it’s in his own interest to compromise with the EU

In my last post, I was a lonely outlier when I argued that we had nothing to lose by giving Boris Johnson a chance to see what he can deliver.  I did so in full knowledge of his record and reputation.  I am unrepentant. At least equally irritating as Boris is the solipsism that assumes Northern Ireland is centre of world attention and reduces outsiders like the prime minister to bit players  in what Churchill called “the fearful integrity” of …

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Give Boris Johnson a fresh chance to prove his sincerity and commitment. We have nothing to lose and much to gain

Ahead of his day in Northern Ireland, much media comment is focusing on Boris Johnson’s announcement of draft legislation later this week to unilaterally amend parts of the Protocol. This is both inevitable and regrettable.  Northern Ireland’s welfare is far more important than the abstruse game of higher politics. Boris Johnson’s article in the Belfast Telegraph deserves to be cautiously welcomed. It suggests a new level of engagement in all level of NI affairs even encroaching on  Stormont’s competences. Much …

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Incoherence in Westminster is just as great as chaos in Stormont

To use a well known term from political science, we seem to be in a right bugger’s muddle. Brinkmanship is the order of the day. Wobbling on the cliff edge is Liz Truss the foreign secretary, threatening to bring in legislation to allow business to disregard EU rules on GB-NI trade as early as next week. She argues  that existing  EU concessions would “ make things worse.” It focuses on the fact that grace periods mean the protocol is not …

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Are Protocol wars about to go beyond posturing?

Is this for real? The Daily Telegraph, the FT and the Irish Times are all agreed on a significant  hardening of positions on the Protocol.  Using their own debased  form of signalling,  loyalist paramilitaries are piling on pressure that Lord Frost for the UK government seems only too willing to accept. Where is this leading? A closer look at the Daily Telegraph closest to UKG sources, suggests a timetable from the end of this month for deciding  to invoke Article …

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The UK government have a stronger hand in the Protocol dispute than their critics think

Lord Frost  Well, where are we on the Protocol?   As talks begin in Brussels which are expected to last  for months , Lord Frost says there’s a long way  to go.  EU vice president Šefčovič insists the EU has reached its limit.  Those are the public positions. Even the briefings are somewhat contradictory.  The Times hopefully reports that the EU is open to a compromise deal that would limit the role of EU Court of Justice in Northern  Ireland, with …

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Don’t gloat; the DUP’s emotional spasms could spell trouble for all of us

Bogeyman Brendan Gloating over the chaos in the DUP may be understandable and even enjoyable. But it is not a sufficient response to what seems to be going on.  The full gamut of resentment at the state of politics has come to the surface of the DUP and there are dangers in it for everybody. In the present circumstances their cup runneth over. The British government are as much to blame as republicans.   First their betrayal over the protocol , …

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If Edwin Poots tried to crash the Assembly it would open the door to a border poll

Let’s assume Edwin Poots is a shoo-in for the DUP leadership. Comfortable in his minor elder statesman role at Westminster, Jeffrey Donaldson hasn’t the stomach for a contest. He might be willing to accept  it on a plate but that’s not going to happen. With more than a hint of desperation, some of us have been foisting the Nixon goes to China model onto Poots, meaning that the hardliner in politics may be better placed to compromise than the liberal. …

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The latest real world effects of the protocol standoff

There’s a mixed picture of trade in and out of both parts of Ireland, some of them temporary and perverse The good news?   Via Sky News   A lot of freight, up by 4.3% in February, is now sent from British ports to  Northern Ireland  on ferries and then driven down into Ireland. More goods are now moving between Britain and Belfast because freight can now be sent from Britain to Ireland through Northern Ireland without complex customs procedures. Ferry data analysed …

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Boris Johnson has refused Arlene Foster on the protocol. Both governments and the EU should now get off their high horses and fix it.

Time was when prime ministers visited somewhere they used it as the backdrop to make a substantial speech about where they stood on the policy or move things along.  Think back to Tony Blair’s “acts of completion”.  Can you imagine Boris Johnson submitting himself to questions about his post Brexit and pro Union strategies?  Nowadays it’s enough for Johnson to turn up for a box ticking exercise, high viz vested or in a white coat, elbows bumping, for a few …

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Arlene must tell us if she agrees with Peter Robinson’s option of Assembly withdrawal to fight the protocol

Peter Robinson under arrest at Clontibret 1986 Arlene Foster has all but declared the DUP’s lack of confidence in the UK government’s efforts to renegotiate the protocol. From the sidelines her predecessor Peter Robinson is  tempting her to contemplate doing something more dramatic about it than protest. With his acute ear he has picked up the drumbeats not only from the DUP core but from the loyalist undergrowth. Cannily  attempting to insure against taking the blame for another “flegs” debacle, …

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Leading constitutional expert backs DUP objections to the Protocol

Prof Vernon Bogdanor   Let us is suspend for a moment blaming the DUP for helping to saddle us with customs forms and phytosanitary checks at Belfast and Larne. Let us praise the SDLP and Alliance for looking for the bright side, at the  competitive  advantage NI business can enjoy NI to EU and GB if only the checks  GB to NI are drastically reduced. Mitigation may yet be the name of the game. But now a thunderbolt has been hurled …

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