Desire for US trade deal only way to make sense of Johnson’s stance on protocol

There’s method behind the British prime minister’s apparent Northern Ireland madness

Bluster disguising ruthlessness has often been the winning combination of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/AFP via Getty

Bluster disguising ruthlessness has often been the winning combination of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/AFP via Getty

To serious commentators on international relations, UK prime minister Boris Johnson is a figure of fun. It is hard to think of serious interventions on his part. Much more common are apparently meaningless strings of words such as his latest comments on the Northern Ireland protocol, talking of “removing the unnecessary protuberances and barriers that have grown up and getting the barnacles off the thing and sandpapering into shape”.

Which could mean anything.

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