Published in Gloucestershire ECHO Thursday 19 May 2022
Government to Blame for Another Stand-off
The PM told us during the 2019 general election that he would ‘Get Brexit Done’ but here we are yet another Brexit stand off between the UK and the EU.
Instead of diplomacy and talks, the UK government is threatening to unilaterally torpedo the Northern Ireland Protocol (which determines the rules about trade between the UK and Northern Ireland) thereby breaking international law which would destroy the UK’s international reputation and which risks a trade war with the EU.
The government says that the deal is not fit for purpose and is not being implemented correctly by the EU, but this is the very same deal that the UK government negotiated and signed, presenting this to the UK public as a deal that would get Brexit done.
Either the government didn’t understand what they had negotiated, or they signed the agreement knowing that they would renegue later. Probably both – a fundamental lack of understanding and competence in the complexities of the politics in Ireland, with large doses of untrustworthiness and a lack of probity and respect for international law thrown into the mix.
A basic fact is that once nations trade with each other they become interdependent and have to manage this interdependency. This is where diplomacy and negotiation comes in. Unfortunately this government appears to prefer a threatening and destabilising approach.
Like many I am fed up with Brexit and, whilst opposing it for very many reasons, expect the government to act in a competent manner and to find solutions that do not break international law and which maintain civil relations with our neighbours. For example there are options such as an alignment on agriculture and veterinary standards which would ease many of the problems associated with the protocol.
In addition I find the timing of this row profoundly unsettling given the ongoing war in Ukraine. We are in a time when allies need to stand together to find ways of co-operating and working in a mature and positive way together across very wide and challenging problems that we are currently experiencing and which lie ahead.