The UK and a breach of international law
Sir, – My letter is prompted by the news that Britain intends to renege on the Brexit deal it signed. This has caused consternation among members of Boris Johnson’s own government, lawyers and civil servants, many of whom are dismayed at the dishonour such flagrant flouting of international law will bring upon the United Kingdom.
I believe it is time for the Government here to drop the posture of neighbourly trust and solidarity with Britain and concentrate instead on building supply chains directly with our neighbours and suppliers around the world.
Our only hope as a small island nation is to disrupt the status quo that currently exists around inflow and outflow of medicines, foods, goods and services between Ireland, Europe and the rest of the world, now achieved mostly through Britain. It is obvious now that Ireland will be at the mercy of a Britain which cares not one jot about any country other than itself. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The UK government has admitted that it proposes to break international law with its Internal Market Bill. Specifically, it will be abrogating parts of the Withdrawal Agreement, negotiated, agreed, and ratified with the EU only last year.
Apparently, it believes that this will improve its negotiating hand in the ongoing trade negotiations with Brussels.
Quite why it believes the EU will compromise the integrity of the single market to facilitate an ex-member is less than clear. The EU took a hard line with Switzerland when its citizens voted to curtail the freedom of movement enshrined in EU/Switzerland agreements.
No doubt the UK government believes it can apply pressure on the weakest link in the EU chain, the land border within Ireland, banking on the unwillingness of the Irish Government to implement customs controls there, come what may.
But the UK government may also be underestimating the determination of the EU to preserve the integrity of the single market, and to avoid giving an ex-member a level of access granted only to existing members in compliance with state aid and other “level playing field” rules that the UK is determined to eliminate.
Boris Johnson has said that in the event of no deal, he will be happy to trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, in the same way as Australia does now. But why would the EU continue to observe WTO rules with the UK when the UK breaks international law and unilateral abrogates trade rules freely negotiated only last year?
This will not end well, either with another humiliating climbdown by Boris Johnson, or with queues of trucks denied access to Calais stretching all the way back from Dover to the M25 around London.
Ireland had better ensure it has adequate shipping capacity for its exports to the EU, avoiding the land-bridge through Britain. – Yours, etc,