Newton Emerson: EU deserves credit for realism not generosity over North protocol

NI protocol is not immutable legal text that EU and fervent supporters proclaim

 Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis: The EU has effectively conceded his point that the protocol is “a policy document as much as anything else”.  Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis: The EU has effectively conceded his point that the protocol is “a policy document as much as anything else”. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Micheál Martin has been a measured voice throughout this year’s tensions on the Northern Ireland protocol. He applied balm again last weekend, calling on the UK government to “reciprocate the generosity of spirit” the EU had shown days before, when it extended the grace period on chilled food and offered permanent mitigations on other subjects – most notably, to quote the Taoiseach, “providing relief on the pharmaceutical issue”.

This may have been the responsible line for a politician to take but it was a terrible explanation for what had just occurred.

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