Britain, the EU and the NI Protocol

 

Sir, – Lord Frost has been busy this week. A speech in Lisbon, and then off to Brussels to try and renegotiate his very excellent deal of less than two years.

The EU has made an offer giving large concessions but it will not be enough for the British government. In truth, nothing will be good enough for the British government, as it returns to its position of “have your cake and eat it” Brexit.

As the chaos that we are experiencing here in the UK as the result of Brexit is now apparently what was always the intention and is part of a cunning plan to reinvent the UK economy. How lucky are we to have such a brilliant tactician as Boris Johnson in charge.

With the country queuing for petrol and depleted stock in the supermarkets, fuel prices reaching unprecedented levels, NHS waiting lists at a record high, a shortage of HGV drivers and care staff, Mr Johnson decided he desperately needed a holiday and so off to Spain to do a little painting.

Brexit has been a disaster for Britain, but now that it is “done”, the UK government knows that picking a fight is a great distraction from the dreadful handling of its domestic agenda.

Time for the EU to say enough is enough. – Yours, etc,

DEREK SKELTON,

Basingstoke,

Hampshire,

UK.

Sir, –You report that former Stormont first minister Peter Robinson has accused the EU of “irrational political prejudice” in its approach to the protocol (News, October 15th). Mr Robinson is, I think, suggesting a contrast with the political prejudice which has informed the behaviour of generations of unionist leaders in Northern Ireland and which is, of course, of the rational variety. – Yours, etc,

PAT O’BRIEN,

Mooncoin,

Co Kilkenny.

A chara, – Newton Emerson writes that “the fact that Frost is tearing up his own deal is a redundant complaint” (“Irish fury over Frost seems aggravated by London taking unionism’s side”, Opinion & Analysis, ,October 14th).

And yet Dominic Cummings has tweeted that the UK never intended to implement the protocol and Ian Paisley jnr has confirmed that Boris Johnson told him in October 2019 that he would tear up the protocol after signing it.

What is the point of negotiating with a counterparty which cannot be trusted to implement any deal they sign? Why is the EU still negotiating with a government which has now rejected the EU proposals out of hand before they had even been published?

Fool us once, shame on us. Fool us twice and the shame is all ours. The EU is demeaning itself and us. – Is mise,

FRANK SCHNITTGER,

Blessington,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The sheer contempt shown by Boris Johnson and Lord Frost regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol, that they the British signed up to, does not inspire me and I’m sure many others with any great confidence. That any future international agreements will be treated with such contempt as this agreement was should be a big red flag, not only to the EU, but also to any other countries who wish to trade with the UK. The EU has bent over backwards to accommodate the UK only to find time after time that, based on Ian Paisley jnr’s revelation, that it was only “semantics” and that the agreement could and would be trashed or torn up anytime. Isn’t it time that all EU countries and their representatives said enough is enough, not an inch more? It’s time that we pushed back against the populist bullies within the British establishment and that threats from them and their colleagues in the DUP will not be countenanced in any form now or into the future. They voted for Brexit. Now let them live with it. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTY GALLIGAN,

Letterkenny,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – There seems to be a fundamental difference in the ways the UK and the EU are approaching negotiations. The UK’s arguments appeal fundamentally to emotion (eg sovereignty, control); the EU is focussing on procedures and practicalities. In 2016, in the UK, the same schism was evident between the two sides of the Brexit referendum campaign. We are told that an emotional trigger elicits the stronger response. This is often cited as a significant factor in the Leave campaign’s victory in 2016. It may prove to be similarly effective in influencing public opinion within the loyalist community in Northern Ireland. Indeed, we could also be witnessing a similar schism playing out in Poland. – Yours, etc,

RICHARD BENIFER,

King’s Lynn,

Norfolk, UK.

Sir, – Could it be that the EU is as proud of what it has achieved since its inception in preventing widespread conflict in Europe and increasing general prosperity, as the unionists are of their membership of the United Kingdom and the British monarchy and establishment? Why would the EU not want to preserve its own integrity and its own future through the NI Protocol? If mainstream unionism paid as much attention to the poor and marginalised in their own communities as the EU has done to the traditionally poorer and marginalised areas of Europe, maybe their voice would be listened to more. And if mainstream unionism’s rhetorical default was not always that of conflict and intransigence, maybe they would better help to secure continued and future peace in NI, as the EU has worked to do both in mainland Europe and indeed in NI since the Belfast Agreement.

When will unionism ever learn that sometimes change may very well be in its own interest and that they wasted a golden opportunity by rejecting Theresa May’s original withdrawal agreement, and finally when will they accept that the majority of people in NI voted to remain? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN COSTELLO,

Ogonnolloe,

Co Clare.