The Observer’s take on Boris Johnson’s position on Ireland at the G7 summit | Editorial observer
This weekend’s G7 summit is the first time the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful democracies have met in person since the start of the pandemic. There should have been a laser focus on coordinating global action against the pandemic and laying the groundwork for a more ambitious international agreement at the November UN summit on catastrophic climate change prevention. Yet thanks to Boris Johnson’s dogmatic approach to Brexit, the Northern Ireland Protocol and EU-UK trade ties are a major distraction, Biden administration officials warning the UK -It must compromise on border controls in order to avoid stoking tensions in Northern Ireland. .
Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable that Britain’s refusal to implement a trade deal with its allies and closest trading partner could undermine the trust and good faith so important in achieving international cooperation. It’s a symbol of everything Johnson seems willing to invest in Britain’s global reputation and stability in Northern Ireland in the name of a fanatical commitment to the idea that the UK shouldn’t. accept regulatory alignment with the EU, even to the extent accepted by countries like Canada and Japan.
The Good Friday Agreement which created a settlement in which people living in Northern Ireland could feel Irish, British or both, was based on Ireland and the UK being members of the Single Market and customs union, thus eliminating the need for any border between the two. countries. A hard Brexit in which the UK categorically refuses to align with EU standards and regulations for certain products is impossible to achieve without imposing border controls on the island of Ireland or in the Sea of Ireland. Ireland, or without compromising the integrity of the EU market.
The compromise found was that Northern Ireland would remain aligned with EU rules and regulations that affect trade in goods, avoiding the need for border controls on the island of Ireland, but requiring checks on goods. traveling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. It was a real compromise: the UK accepted the Good Friday deal which required some alignment for Northern Ireland. The EU has agreed to separate its four freedoms to allow Northern Ireland to remain in the single market for goods; for the UK, a non-member state, to apply border controls to protect the single market, which requires significant trust in the UK; and that the arrangement be put to a democratic vote every four years in the Northern Ireland assembly.
Johnson’s actions when signing the protocol compromised the trust that would be needed to make this unique deal work. It was essential that he mobilize trade unionists for these arrangements; instead, he brazenly lied, claiming the protocol would not require any checks in the Irish Sea. Last fall he tried to pass a bill through Parliament that would have allowed the UK to unilaterally break this international agreement. The government has done little to prepare for the end of the protocol’s grace periods that delay the introduction of border controls; instead of negotiating to expand them, the UK announced it would expand them without any dialogue. He is threatening to do so again when it comes to chilled meats. David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, has chosen to approach sensitive negotiating moments by writing aggressive opinion columns accusing the EU of acting belligerently and in bad faith.
The EU hasn’t always helped matters – its decision to temporarily invoke Article 16 measures to guard against the movement of vaccines to the UK from Ireland was undoubtedly a big mistake , which she admitted. But much of the responsibility for the erosion of trust between the UK and the EU, and the consequences for Northern Ireland, lies with Johnson and Frost.
The risks to Northern Ireland are serious. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was always going to require care and care from the political parties of Northern Ireland and the British and Irish governments, to protect the fragile balance that brought peace. Theresa May compromised this by forming a political alliance with the DUP, thereby eliminating the UK government’s neutral arbiter status. For Johnson, Northern Ireland was just an afterthought in his dogmatic drive for the toughest Brexit. The UK has refused to agree to a level of regulatory alignment with the EU that, for example, countries like Japan and Canada have agreed to, regardless of the costs to Northern Ireland. This is likely to further fuel tensions in Northern Ireland ahead of the marching season.
Johnson’s actions also have wider consequences. This G7 summit is a useful reminder that the international cooperation necessary to face the world’s greatest challenges rests on trust, friendship and personal relationships. Rather, his approach to diplomacy focuses on dishonesty, wracking compromises and threats of unilateral action. It will dramatically diminish Britain’s role in the world and its ability to help negotiate so urgent international action to deal with climate catastrophe, microbial resistance and the threat of another pandemic.
But there is perhaps no greater indictment against Johnson’s post as Prime Minister than his determination to put a symbolic fight with our European allies ahead of the stability and security of part of the Kingdom. -United. The nation will continue to pay the price for the incompetent and dishonorable way it chooses to rule Britain.