The signing of the Withdrawal Agreement is a fantastic moment, which finally delivers the result of the 2016 referendum and brings to an end far too many years of argument and division. Boris Johnson 24 January 2020.

Here we are, two and half years later, some six years after the referendum and it still feels to me that Brexit is far from finished. The years of argument and division are carrying on, indeed this government is making things worse.

Not only has it not implemented some of the checks required in the agreement it has now brought legislation forward to overturn, unilaterally, some of the Northern Ireland Protocol. I’m no expert but understand that this was a fundamental part of the agreement, designed to protect the interests of both the UK and the EU’s internal market.  It was hailed as the best thing since sliced bread yet now the government is planning to rip it up.

The interesting thing about the word protocol is that it has two meanings, both relevant in this context. It can mean a formal international agreement between governments relating to a particular activity, such as in the NI Protocol. It can also mean the system of rules and acceptable behaviour used at official ceremonies and occasions.

This government’s proposed actions break both meanings. You can’t have an agreement where only one side agrees and its behaviour is totally unacceptable.

It makes me wonder why they are spoiling for a fight. Is it that the agreement wasn’t up to scratch and the government didn’t know? (Careless) Did they think that the EU wouldn’t stick to the letter of the agreement? (Naive) Are they pandering to the right wing anti-EU part of the conservative party? (Putting party before country)

It’s probably all of the above but I am coming to the conclusion that the real aim of the government’s action is to irritate the EU so much that any future chance of reentry is kicked into the long grass. 

They are certainly doing a good job of that.

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