The unprecedented tidal wave of UK government resignations that led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s departure in the last few days is causing concern about the lack of a functioning government in London. His continued presence in a caretaker capacity as PM will only serve to make things worse. Where does that leave the Northern Ireland Johnson created debacle? Such worries have been present in Northern Ireland for months, due to London’s unwillingness to fulfil their agreement with the E.U. and use its muscle to push for a fully-functioning Executive. It looks like the D.U.P. has been wagging the Westminster dog’s tail.
The Northern Ireland Protocol
The DUP prevented the formation of an Executive in a fit of pique in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol. Any businessman could have told them how they could have used it and turned it into a cash cow. That would have required an intelligent listener which seems to be in short supply or completely absent in the D.U.P. They weren’t too happy with the idea of a Sinn Fein First Minister either and that may be the real hidden reason for their petulance.
On top of that Boris Johnson took a highly controversial decision to introduce the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, designed to scrap parts of the post Brexit mechanism. His government had signed a treaty agreeing to implement this in the first place but now they wanted to unilaterally scrap it without consulting the EU. Boris’s eel like slipperiness made it difficult or impossible for the E.U. to deal with him. Even his own cabinet had enough of his lies and deviousness which has led to their demand for his departure. In a world where the standard of political leadership worldwide is at an all time low Boris Johnson managed to reach a new depth. The term ‘Perfidious Albion’ took on a whole new level of meaning. For those whore not aware the terms meaning, it suggests that the British were renowned for their deceit and treachery in their dealings with others.
The Elephant Remains in the Room
Maybe Johnson’s departure will remove his characteristic logjam of obfuscation concerning the fundamental question concerning Northern Ireland. The question is whether the incoming Prime Minister will continue with the controversial and questionably legal legislation or not. This legislation is in violation of international treaty agreements Johnson’s administration made with the EU. It is due back in the House of Commons next week. The problem is that Johnson although he has resigned has not gone away yet. He is attempting to hang on as PM in a ‘caretaker capacity’ for as long as possible with dire consequences for Northern Ireland. This could only happen in Westminster. Only Stormont could do it better.
Up you to the E.U.
While doubts over future progress of Johnsons bill to rip up NI Brexit deal and with Johnson continuing in a caretaker capacity as PM anything is possible. The Bill is scheduled to reach the House of Lords in the coming autumn and it remains to be seen whether Boris Johnson’s replacement, whoever that may be, will be prepared to make it law, modify it or let it die. It is thought Conservative MP’s who are Unionists natural allies want the leadership contestants to pledge their support for the implementation of the ‘Up you to the EU’ protocol legislation, before they receive any endorsement.
Donaldson’s No Surrender
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s siege mentality reaction to Boris Johnson’s resignation says ‘there can be no functioning devolved government in Stormont and the protocol.’ In other words they cannot co-exist. The other problem is the relationship with the E.U.
The E.U had not been unprepared to negotiate with Boris Johnson because like everybody else they don’t trust him and anyway they anticipated his resignation. Will they be prepared to negotiate with a new Prime Minister, would he be any better, and would the two sides be able to create enough wriggle room or smoke and mirrors to persuade the DUP to return to government in Northern Ireland?
When the Parts Won’t Fit
It’s a case of the perfidious Brits dealing with an angry E.U., with Donaldson’s D.U.P. siege mentality and sense of entitlement lurking in the wings and an impotent Micheal Martin playing dumb in Dublin. The parts just won’t fit. When you have a jigsaw puzzle with none of the parts fitting it’s time to discard it and start again with something else but that would require a level of intelligence, creativity and good will that none of those involved have.