In Frederick Forsyth’s tense thriller The Fourth Protocol, the title refers to a secret Protocol to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, designed to prevent nuclear weapons being smuggled into a country and set off surreptitiously. This ‘Fourth Protocol’ is pure fiction but the Northern Ireland Protocol, unfortunately, is fact, and is the EU’s nuclear weapon deliberately designed to destroy the United Kingdom by separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the country. And there is nothing secret or surreptitious about it. The former Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, revealed that the European Commission made it very clear that “Northern Ireland was the price the United Kingdom must pay for leaving the EU”. The official EU website brazenly confirms that the Protocol:
- “Avoids a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, thereby enabling the smooth functioning of the all-island economy and safeguarding the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions;
- ensures the integrity of the EU’s Single Market for goods, along with all the guarantees it offers in terms of consumer protection, public and animal health protection, and combatting fraud and trafficking”.
This is both shamelessly one-sided and fundamentally dishonest. The Protocol “avoids a hard border” between the North and South of Ireland, but imposes one East-West between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. This is therefore clearly skewed against British interests. Also, while it “ensures the integrity of the EU’s Single Market”, it destroys the integrity of the British internal market. So again it is deliberately designed to benefit the EU while harming the UK. So why did Boris Johnson sign up to such an anti-British treaty?
To understand this we need to briefly look back in anger at the negotiations which followed the referendum in 2016 and at the treachery and deceitfulness of the Conservative Party. After promising not to resign, David Cameron resigned, and after campaigning against Brexit, Theresa May took charge of implementing Brexit. You really couldn’t make it up. Realising that Remainer May’s comically tragic, brainless bleating that “Brexit means Brexit” revealed she had no clear vision of what to do, Dublin and Brussels, motivated by their hatred for Britain and even more so Brexit, seized their opportunity to weaponise the social tensions in Northern Ireland and claimed that the Belfast Agreement (which republicans like to call the ‘Good Friday Agreement’) prevented a “hard border” between the North and the South. The definition of a “hard border” was never clearly defined, but they asserted that – whatever this was – it would be inevitable unless the whole of the UK, or at least Northern Ireland, remained subject to EU internal market laws and under ECJ control.
This was all complete nonsense, of course. What the Belfast Agreement does say is that both communities (Loyalists and Republicans) should be treated equally. But what the Agreement does not say is whether the border should be soft, hard, creamy or even ‘al dente’ – in fact, it isn’t even mentioned at all! If, despite not being mentioned in the Belfast Agreement, a North-South border is nevertheless deemed unacceptable to the Republicans then an East-West one is obviously unacceptable to the Loyalists, and if you are going to treat both communities equally then neither border is acceptable. But in any case, the notion that border checks would be necessary was the ‘big lie’ on which the Protocol and all its subsequent problems have been built. The UK made clear, in the words of Jon Thompson, the head of HMRC: “we do not … require any infrastructure at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland under any circumstances.” And the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “I’ve made it very clear to my counterpart in the UK and also to all the other EU Prime Ministers that under no circumstances will there be a border – full stop… we won’t be installing a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and everyone knows that.” The idea that border checks would be necessary to prevent unauthorised goods crossing from Northern Ireland into the South was demonstrably untrue, since pre-Brexit, differences in VAT, excise duties and red diesel were all controlled away from the border by inspecting company books or goods at the point of despatch or delivery. There was absolutely no reason why the same system could not be extended to all other goods post-Brexit. Not only that – even before Brexit, British companies were required to record all exports to the EU on the “Europe List” in their VAT returns. The recording of exports in this way provides yet another means of monitoring and regulating trade post-Brexit.
In summary, we can see that the EU’s entire argument was one lie built upon another lie, all designed to harm and punish the UK. So why was it not rejected out of hand by the UK? Because, unfortunately, we are governed by weak and stupid politicians who are artfully manipulated by devious and treasonous civil servants. This is at the heart of so many of the problems that we face as a country today. So when the contemptible Theresa May was told by her officials that the UK had to make concessions to accommodate the EU’s concerns, she, like the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, who was happy to believe “as many as six impossible things before breakfast”, meekly accepted this, and immediately sold the pass on Northern Ireland. The die was cast and years of frustrating delays, constitutional crises, idiotic discussions about the ‘backstop’ and Brexit betrayal have all followed.
Eventually May fell on her sword and resigned and was replaced by Boris Johnson. Why, you may ask, did he not immediately drop the Northern Ireland proposals? The answer is that that would have been rejected by the EU and would have led to a ‘no deal’ Brexit. “Good”, you will no doubt exclaim, and while that is exactly what most Brexiteers wanted, there was an insuperable problem with this: the Remain-dominated House of Commons had passed the Benn ‘Surrender Act’ and made a no-deal Brexit literally impossible. The aptly-named ‘Traitors’ Parliament’ had handed all bargaining power to the EU who could now dictate terms to Britain. So the Protocol was signed under duress, an overarching Withdrawal Agreement concluded, the election was finally called and the Conservatives won a landslide majority. It is at this stage, just when we thought we could finally ‘Take Back Control’ (after all, that’s we voted for!) and start acting as an independent sovereign country in our own best interests at last, that the terrible truth became clear: Boris Johnson is not really a Brexiteer at all. It is well-known that he penned two articles for the Telegraph: one in favour of Remain and one supporting Leave. It was only after reflecting on what most suited his personal ambition and political prospects that he submitted the latter.
Not only is Boris not a Brexiteer, neither is he even a patriot. He recently said that he was not a “sovereignty purist”. In other words, he is willing to sacrifice Britain’s sovereignty in order to appease foreign governments. Does that sound like a prime minister we can trust? A prime minister who was a Brexiteer, a patriot and a Unionist would, having won the election, immediately have discarded the Protocol. It was, as we have seen, agreed under duress, so it is completely invalid. And, by creating a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland it tears our country in two. By destroying the integrity of the United Kingdom it directly contravenes the 1800 Act of Union, article VI of which states: “The subjects of Great Britain and Ireland shall be on the same footing in respect of trade and navigation… all prohibitions and bounties on the export of articles the produce or manufacture of either country to the other shall cease.” The Courts agree that the Protocol is contrary to the Act of Union, but say it is lawful because Parliament voted for this. This is obviously true: parliament is supreme, and can make any decision it wants, and whatever it decides is the law. The Act of Union has, as the judges say, been “subjugated” by the Protocol – just as Boris has allowed the UK to be subjugated by the EU. Just to give you an idea of how much control the EU now has over part of our country, more than 4,000 new EU rules have been enforced in Northern Ireland since the start of 2021, and neither the local people nor the British government have any say whatsoever in these rules. The people of Northern Ireland have been turned into EU slaves.
Not only does the Protocol destroy our country, it doesn’t even work the way it should. It makes clear, in Article 1, “This Protocol respects the essential State functions and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom”. The preamble also refers to “the importance of maintaining the integral place of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom’s internal market” and specifically states that it “should impact as little as possible on the everyday life of communities in both Ireland and Northern Ireland”, and that “Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the United Kingdom and will benefit from participation in the United Kingdom’s independent trade policy”. Now let’s be honest: those in favour of a strict application of EU rules, controls and restrictions can also find plenty of supportive quotes in the Protocol. This is because this document was cobbled together by two sides with wholly conflicting interests and is a complete mess. It is all things to all men – just as Boris Johnson tries to be himself!
There is, however, one section which is unambiguous: Article 16, which relates to safeguards. This unequivocally states “If the application of this Protocol leads to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade, the Union or the United Kingdom may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures.” These conditions have unarguably been met. Yes, trade has been diverted, since moving goods (especially produce) from GB to NI is now fraught with difficulties, costs and restrictions. And yes, serious societal difficulties have resulted, with Northern Ireland’s local Assembly unable to function due to Unionist protests. The government agrees that the conditions for the triggering of the safeguards set out in Article 16 have been met, and has said so repeatedly for over a year. But talk is all they have done and what Brexiteers and Unionists want is, as Elvis Presley said, “a little less conversation, a little more action, please”. But all such demands for action have been rejected because of Boris’s cowardice and EU appeasement. We have a prime minister who refuses to act to support British companies, British people or even Britain itself.
So what are we to make of the latest twist in this story, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which the government has now proposed? The EU, of course, are up in arms about it, but that tells us nothing, since this is their default reaction to anything the UK does. If Boris declared he didn’t like Brussels sprouts the EU would howl in outrage at this clear breach of international law which was an attack on the EU and represented a new low in UK-EU relations. Sadly, the truth is that this Bill is a complete sham, a fraud that will do, and achieve, absolutely nothing. Before you complain that I am being too harsh, let me explain. The main problem is that the Bill, even if enacted, will not make one single change to the Protocol or to how it is being applied. No, not one. All it will do is give the government the power to make changes to the application of the Protocol at a later date, maybe, someday, never, should it decide to do so. But Boris has made it clear that he doesn’t want to do so – so the powers will never be used! After all, as we have seen, the government already has the power, under Article 16 of the Protocol, to make changes to its application – but it hasn’t done so. So what on earth, you may be asking, is the point of bringing this Bill forward in the first place? The answer is that it is primarily a typical bit of Boris bluster, designed to pretend that he is doing something his supporters like while in reality doing nothing but deceive them. Boris also believes that the threat of action will induce the EU to offer some small, even insignificant, concession, that he will be able to claim as a victory. He is said to be an admirer of Churchill but in reality his policy of appeasing an EU enemy that wishes us nothing but harm is more like the latter’s much mocked predecessor, Neville Chamberlain. Like him, Boris is hoping for a fig leaf concession he can wave and declare that the changes to the Protocol are no longer needed and are cancelled. Don’t believe me? Then ask yourself why, as the Telegraph explains, “a separate “kill switch” has also been built in that would allow any agreement reached with the EU to instantly supersede the legislation”.
Another problem with the Bill is just how weak and half-hearted it is. But then I suppose if you don’t actually intend to use it, and care more about grovelling to the EU, why bother to make the contents really effective? For instance, the government is not going to genuinely treat Northern Ireland as part of the UK and eliminate all checks and controls on goods moving from GB to NI. If you believe that the UK is one country, free, united and sovereign, then there should be no more checks on goods going from London to Belfast than there are on those going from London to Birmingham. But instead the government is proposing to create some absurd system, with goods destined to remain in Northern Ireland passing through a ‘green lane’ and those intended for onward movement to the Republic going through a panoply of checks in a ‘red lane’. And if you think using the green lane will be nice and easy, think again. This will only be available to those who have been approved under an onerous ‘trusted trader’ scheme, and all goods will have to be labelled as UK or EU compliant and be marked as ‘only for sale in Northern Ireland’, meaning more costs for businesses which will obviously need to be passed on to the consumer. As for the ridiculous ‘red lane’, why on earth is the British government acting as unpaid EU border guards? Why would we give a monkey’s what enters the EU? It is not our responsibility! Do we offer the same service to any other country? No. So why are doing special favours to the EU? After all, it is not doing us any favours, is it? It is trying to harm us while we polish its shoes. What a weak and treacherous prime minister Boris Johnson is!
There are other problems with the proposed Bill. For instance, while the government says the ECJ will no longer have the final word on disputes between the UK and the EU over Northern Ireland, it will still be involved in decision-making, and instead of British courts or British ministers being in control there will be an “independent arbitration system”. Will the UK’s Supreme Court, or independent arbitrators, be involved in decision-making in any EU country? Of course not, so once again the government’s proposal are unbalanced and are biased in favour of the EU. And – in a worrying indication of how woke Boris is – the ‘human rights’ system in Northern Ireland will be untouchable, as will the UK-Irish Common Travel Area, which grants special privileges to Irish citizens, who can come here, vote, and claim NHS treatment and benefits, all without having to make any contribution or show any loyalty to Britain.
Finally, I am bewildered by the stupidity of the government’s attempt at justifying its actions. They are setting themselves up to fail. The government claims that what it is doing falls under the legal doctrine of “necessity”. This is a genuine concept, put forward by the International Law Commission (a body created by the UN) which says that states with an “essential interest” which is in “grave and imminent peril” may disregard international obligations they have previously agreed to. The government says: “The strain that the arrangements under the protocol are placing on institutions in Northern Ireland, and more generally on sociopolitical conditions, has reached the point where the government has no other way of safeguarding the essential interests at stake than through the adoption of the legislative solution that is being proposed.” But hang on – if the situation is so bad (which it is, because the government has allowed it to get to this point!) then why not use article 16 of the Protocol to change how it is applied? The government claims that article 16 only provides a temporary solution, and that’s true, but given that it will take over a year for this Bill to get through the House of Lords (the government will probably have to use the sledgehammer of the Parliament Act), and that during that time the Protocol and all its problems will continue, then why not use article 16 to provide temporary relief while the Protocol Bill is going through parliament? The fact that Boris will not do this proves that he has no intention of actually solving the problems or of taking unilateral action to defend British interests – you know, as every other sovereign country in the world does. Some people try to portray treaties as having some special and untouchable significance, but they are just temporary agreements that are signed and are superseded – or maybe we should ask for Gascony to be returned to Britain as agreed by the Treaty of Paris 1303!
The fact is that the government’s convoluted and contradictory legal justification is completely unnecessary, for one simple reason: there is no such thing as ‘international law’. Yes, you heard me right, the term ‘international law’ is a misnomer. What people are referring to are international agreements (such as treaties) which are then turned into national laws by the parliaments of the countries involved. The legal term for this is “incorporation”. An agreement is incorporated into law by parliament, and then, and only then, does it become a law, but it is a national law and, like all national laws, it can be changed by parliament. The Protocol was incorporated into law by parliament, so it is now UK law, but if parliament passes the current Bill they will amend it, as they are perfectly entitled to do. So the government is not ‘breaking’ the law, it is changing the law – just as it changed the Act of Union by incorporating the Protocol in the first place. Remember that? Parliament is supreme, as the courts have ruled, and whatever it agrees becomes law, by virtue of parliament agreeing to it, and changes any previous law. The term ‘international law’ is used (and abused) by left-wing internationalists, who want a world government. They have a vested interest in making everyone believe there is a higher authority than national governments. The Left have always promoted supra-national organisations, and hated patriotism. It is no coincidence that the socialist anthem is the ‘Internationale’. But why is this supposedly ‘Conservative’ government going along with this nonsense? Because it is led by a prime minister who is very stupid, very weak and very cowardly. The vile, left-wing and anti-British civil service tell him the “line to take” and he never dares challenge their marxist nostrums.
So much for what the government is, and is not, doing. But what should it do? This is easy: it should recognise that the UK is one country, free and sovereign, and that the role of the British government is to care for the interests of the British people, not foreigners. The Protocol does not benefit Britain, and therefore it should simply be completely scrapped. The debate about the Protocol has revolved entirely around Northern Ireland, but the one thing about the Protocol that not a single politician has mentioned is this: it is most damaging to businesses on the mainland, here in Great Britain. Because it makes moving goods (and especially food) from GB to NI more difficult (and sometimes actually impossible) it harms the businesses making those goods here on the mainland. So scrapping the Protocol will be good for the whole of the UK. This is not just a Northern Irish issue.
Left-wing EU worshippers tell us that scrapping the Protocol will harm Britain’s image abroad, but as usual the opposite is the case. Making unilateral changes will demonstrate to the world that the UK is strong, confident and determined. This will increase the respect other countries have for us. We will prove to the world that if you try to take advantage of Britain at a moment when it is temporarily weak (as the EU did), that will be unsustainable and will only lead to long-term animosity and instability. Foreign countries will understand that they need to show Britain more respect and goodwill. And what of the movement of goods across the Irish North-South border, the EU worshippers cry? How will the EU’s single market be ‘protected’? Well, the first thing to point out is how insignificant this movement of goods actually is: exports from NI to the South represent just 0.2% of EU trade. The EU fanatics like to quote ‘international law’ at us, even though this does not exist, but what does exist in law is the concept of ‘de minimis‘, which is when something is too trivial to bother with. And Irish cross-border trade is so minuscule and immaterial that the simplest solution is basically to just forget about it – it’s too tiny to worry about.
But if the petty-minded Eurocrats insist on some sort of permanent solution then I would suggest a new trading relationship that would solve all the problems between the UK and EU, based on the acceptance of equivalence. In other words, both the UK and EU accept that although their rules and regulations will increasingly diverge, nevertheless they are, and always will be, equivalent, and that goods made in either jurisdiction are equally and unconditionally fine and acceptable. The arrogant, insulting and offensive suggestion made by the EU that UK goods and produce cannot be trusted is at the heart of the fractious relationship between us. The sooner they get off their high horse the better. By abolishing all restrictions on trade within the British Isles we can demonstrate to the EU that British goods and produce are not something it needs to be ‘protected’ from!
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