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Misleading claims from Boris Johnson over protocol

It was confirmed last week that a Westminster committee is to investigate Boris Johnson over claims that he misled the British parliament about Downing Street parties during lockdown.

While it may be some time before the process reaches a formal outcome, opinion polls indicate that most people have already dismissed Mr Johnson's version of events.

However, an inquiry will not be required to establish that the British prime minister's latest statements on the Irish protocol were completely disingenuous by any standards.

He was asked on Friday during his visit to India about reports in The Financial Times that he was considering new laws which would enable British ministers to override a central component of the EU withdrawal agreement which he signed only two years ago.

Mr Johnson declared that the position was very simple, and said: "It's about the balance of the Good Friday Agreement and, because of what is happening, it would be fair to say that the protocol really does not command the confidence of a large large component of the population in Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson must know that the protocol is supported by a clear majority of MLAs in the outgoing Stormont Assembly, and is also endorsed by a range of influential figures both in the business sector and indeed the regional branch of his own party.

He further cannot fail to be aware that the measure was an inevitable outcome of the Brexit debacle which he championed but was rejected by most voters in Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson also referred positively to the democratically ratified Good Friday Agreement without acknowledging that it was bitter condemned by the same minority of individuals who are now campaigning against the protocol.

Perhaps none of this worries a prime minister who has a record of treating nationalists and unionists at Stormont with equal disdain, but he would do well to consider the implications for his wider relationships on both sides of the Atlantic.

Joe Biden, already known to be deeply unimpressed by Mr Johnson's record on Irish affairs, is likely to have an equally negative attitude to a long proposed US/UK free trade deal which has been much coveted in London.

One EU diplomat, quoted by RTE at the weekend, reflected on the possibility that Mr Johnson was preparing to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement and asked the pertinent question:``Why would you then sign anything with the UK ever ?''

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