Britain should be wary of using Northern Ireland as a political football




  • In World
  • 2022-08-17 10:19:10Z
  • By The Telegraph
A new mural showing the two Conservative leadership contestants Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss appears on a wall in Belfast City Centre, Northern Ireland.
A new mural showing the two Conservative leadership contestants Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss appears on a wall in Belfast City Centre, Northern Ireland.  

Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak don't have a single new idea between them when it comes to Northern Ireland and Brexit.

It won't make much difference to people in Northern Ireland who ends up being prime minister because both will pursue the same failed policy as Boris Johnson.

Both vow they will press ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, unless the EU caves to British demands over the Irish Sea border.

The Bill will hand ministers the power to tear up the treaty, which Brussels warns will break international law and bring retaliation.

Ahead of hustings in Northern Ireland on Wednesday, Ms Truss praised her own approach to talks with the EU and vowed to see it through in an article for the Belfast News Letter.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Secretary and Brexit negotiator began formal dispute procedures against the EU, which is blocking British membership of the Horizon research programme over the Protocol.

Liz Truss began legal proceedings against the European Union on Tuesday, over it blocking the UK joining the Horizon programme - Niall Carson
Liz Truss began legal proceedings against the European Union on Tuesday, over it blocking the UK joining the Horizon programme - Niall Carson  

Mr Sunak stole a small march on Ms Truss by telling the News Letter he would force through the Bill in its current form and not allow it to be watered down by the Lords.

The former chancellor is struggling from the perception that reformed Remainer Ms Truss is tougher than he is on the Protocol despite his impeccable Brexiteer credentials.

The Treasury pushed back against plans to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol, a clause allowing parts of the treaty to be disapplied, for fear of starting a trade war with Brussels.

But both Mr Sunak and Ms Truss are continuity candidates on Brexit and Northern Ireland, with neither promising a fresh approach to Mr Johnson's policy.

That policy has so far failed to remove burdensome border checks introduced by a treaty the Government negotiated and signed.

It has brought the EU and UK to the point of threatening each other with legal action, tariffs and, at one point, to the brink of a trade war over sausages.

It has angered Joe Biden's in Washington, jeopardised slim hopes of a UK-US trade deal and strained relations with Dublin to the limit.

Bill fails to convince DUP to drop boycott

Most obviously, the Bill has failed in its primary goal of convincing the DUP to drop its boycott of the Northern Ireland Assembly and enter into power-sharing with Sinn Féin.

Sinn Fein became the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time in the country's history after May 5 elections, which were seen by many as a de facto referendum on the Protocol.

The DUP won't form a devolved government until the Protocol is removed or replaced.

Meanwhile Stormont is powerless to tackle the longest NHS waiting lists in the UK or the cost of living crisis.

Sinn Fein, which is pushing for a reunification referendum within the next decade, is quick to point that out.

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss will flex their muscles at Brussels at the hustings after a campaign that has seen little debate over the Protocol so far.

Tough talk may play well with the DUP but it will further alienate the rest of Northern Ireland's political parties, which represent a pro-Protocol majority after the Stormont elections.

But the two candidates' intended audience is not voters in Northern Ireland, who mostly backed Remain, or even the power-brokers of the EU.

It is the Tory members across the UK who will elect Boris Johnson's successor as prime minister.

Both the UK and EU are guilty of weaponising Northern Ireland since Brexit.

The country is once again being used as a political football.

One day, if a reunification referendum is held, people in Northern Ireland could kick back.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Liz Truss
Liz Truss's Tax Cut Gaffe Hits Tories in the Pocket: Five Charts

(Bloomberg) -- Liz Truss's fiscal plans have already turned investors against her and handed the Labour Party a massive lead in opinion polls. Things could...

Cost of living: Off-gridders are one step ahead in energy crisis
Cost of living: Off-gridders are one step ahead in energy crisis

Some families are avoiding the spiralling cost of energy bills with self-sufficient solutions.

American tourists are racing to Europe - and they
American tourists are racing to Europe - and they're here to spend

While the landmark Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is blacked out in a bid to preserve energy, I can see the bright lights of the Empire State Building blazing...

Politics latest news: Growth plans and OBR forecast could be brought forward, hints Financial Secretary
Politics latest news: Growth plans and OBR forecast could be brought forward, hints Financial Secretary

Truss keen to join new 'European political community' Benefits hit as Truss tries to stem the bleeding Labour surges to biggest poll lead since 1990s Tory...

Pound recovering as PM to meet head of OBR - live updates
Pound recovering as PM to meet head of OBR - live updates

Eurozone facing 'severe risks' to financial stability, admits ECB The FTSE 100 closed down 1.77pc at 6,881.59 The Dow Jones closed down 1.54pc at 29,225.61...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World