Time to wield the big stick
The Boris Johnson government has once again signalled its intention to break international law and its treaty obligations to the EU by introducing domestic legislation to override parts of the protocol and to annul the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over protocol related matters. This is in addition to its current unilateral and illegal extension of grace periods on protocol implementation and its failure to honour agreements on data sharing and building facilities for goods inspections.
Boris Johnson has stated that he doesn’t think the EU will retaliate in any way. He could be forgiven for forming this conviction because the EU paused legal actions to redress current UK flouting of the protocol and has continued to talk meekly about addressing any issues which might arise out of the implementation of the protocol.
He also has the chutzpah to claim that the protocol lacks support in the Northern Ireland despite 56 per cent of the electorate voting for pro-protocol parties with the main anti-protocol party, the DUP, reduced to 21 per cent of the vote. He has continued to side openly with the DUP despite the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement requiring the UK government to act impartially and give equality of esteem to both political traditions in the north.
One of the main benefits of Brexit was always supposed to be the scrapping of Common Agricultural Policy subsidies on agricultural produce and their replacement by cheaper food sourced on world markets. The fact that this would fatally undermine British agriculture is of little concern to Conservatives because of its small contribution to British GDP, but agriculture is a much more important component of the Northern Ireland economy and society. How will Northern Ireland farmers fare when faced with cheaper imports from abroad and from CAP subsidised Irish farmers?
The EU is an alliance of states based on trust, the adherence to treaties and the rule of law. It has no army to enforce its treaties. The maintenance of EU food quality and security standards has always been an important component of its commitment to European farmers, consumers and the general economy. If the EU will not now act to protect its laws, security and economies then what is the point of the EU?
If the EU wants to be taken seriously by Boris Johnson et al, it will have to act decisively in defence of its legitimate interests.
The time for talking softly is over. It is time for the EU to wield the big stick of trade sanctions until Boris Johnson realises that breaking the withdrawal agreement and the Belfast Good Friday Agreement carries a huge cost for the UK as a whole.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Conversing with England
What people from Northern Ireland fail to realise is that those residing on that bigger isle to the east of us are of a different species. Now I’m not racially categorising them, nor belittling them, maybe the opposite. In short, they are not only different but superior.
As such, intercourse between the two species is challenging. Imagine expecting your tabby cat or poodle to have an estimation of the Marxist theory of dialectical materialism or indeed the wonders of simultaneous equations. But do we despise the other species? No, of course not. We let them lick our hands, stroking them lovingly on the head.
Moggie and Bobo like to be liked as you like to be licked.
So it is that we need to appreciate our inability to understand the wisdom of the English – a wisdom that we in the western island often too easily ascribe to a conflation of stupidity and imperial arrogance.
Examples include Boris’s partygate episodes; earlier remarks about Islamic women compared to letter boxes; police called to his house due to possibilities of a domestic assault; being fired from several jobs but positive production of a multitude of children. Now some of us lesser types might ascribe these actions to arrogance or stupidity, but that is a reflection on us not on the superior types.
Some of us can recall the phrase “Oh my God, I am heartly sorry for having offended Thee”.
This as we know has been updated.
What we need to say is: “I would like to humbly apologise... for the impression caused by my remarks etc etc...” – a nice oven-ready apology.
For all we know the English, as well as having a superior intellect, have possibly a razor-sharp morality that ussens fail to comprehend.
Lisburn, Co Antrim
Evangelise for unity – what’s the deal?
Tom Collins (May 27) urges evangelism for unity and boldly states that re-unification would solve most of the problems currently besetting us. He conveniently neglects to explain how.
So, come on Tom (or anyone else), explain to me, a persuadable unionist, how I would be better off in a united Ireland. Also explain how the good citizens of the Republic would be better off having to shoulder the burden of the northern welfare state which you deride. Remember, Bill Clinton won the US presidency from George Bush snr with the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid.”
So, Tom, if you want to evangelise for unity, sell me the deal. Don’t just go on about how awful Britain is, I need to know how my daily life will be better in a united Ireland, possibly governed by Sinn Féin. Please get real about this.
I look forward to Tom, or anyone else, picking up my challenge.
Bangor, Co Down
Solution to impasse
The present impasse preventing Stormont from being opened for business is because, under the current rules, the largest party always works with the second largest to form a government. This is currently being prevented from happening by the intransigence of the DUP, the second largest party, over a protocol that seems to only inconvenience them and their standing within these six counties. No other party, with any real public support, has any trouble embracing it. My proposition is to amend the rules so that no party can ever prevent the democratic processes from operating within Stormont. This will benefit all the electorate, so by allowing any party that wants to form a majority government, with the help of a coalition of the willing, to open Stormont to everyday business, will be able to do so. So, what do you think?
Ballycastle, Co Antrim