Loss of reputation

Jim accuses the government of trashing our international reputation in the row over the Northern Ireland protocol and calls on Brussels to prepare sanctions.

Jim Hancock

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“Getting Brexit done is 10,000 times more important than lawyers yapping re international law” That was the view of the then top advisor to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, two years ago. The government was in a titanic struggle with parliament over Brexit and signed the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It was a formal, solemn international treaty and yet we now hear from Ian Paisley Jnr that the Prime Minister assured him he would tear it up.

It is clear that this government doesn’t give a fig for our reputation as a country that can be trusted. The Irish are right to say that states should count the spoons when dealing with Britain in the future.

The European Union have just gone out of their way to try and help us out of our self-created mess with trade between Great Britain and Ireland. Still the crazed Brexiteer Lord Frost isn’t happy. He wants to remove the jurisdiction of the European Court.

My advice to the EU would be to say no and prepare the trade sanctions against us.

Are Leavers truly comfortable with all this? Rowing over the Irish border. Picking fights with the French over fishing? Instead of being a strong stabilising force in the EU, we have become the unreliable, unruly troublemakers outside. Johnson is responsible for setting this tone with his incoherent response to the energy crisis and his attack on business still wrestling with the complexities and cost of Brexit.

A WAY BACK?

No party, not even the Liberal Democrats, dare talk in public about a return to the EU.

However, I attended a fringe meeting at the Labour conference where a strategy to at least end the hard Brexit was mapped out by pro-European party members.

It was stressed that telling Leavers they had made a mistake would be counterproductive. Garston MP Maria Eagle said Brexit had been a disaster but a new way of talking about it had to be devised without rehearsing the old arguments.

Others argued for a return to the Single Market and Customs Union. A campaign had to be built from the grassroots. That was not done in the 2016 Referendum when there was a reliance on fear rather than a positive case for EU membership.

Journalist Polly Toynbee urged Labour to end its silence on Europe by showing how closer ties could help solve issues like the haulage crisis.

There is little chance of that at the moment. Labour strategists fear it would antagonise people in the Northern Red Wall seats where the Leave vote was strong.

It will need hard work from the ground up in those left behind communities to convince people that their problems had little to do with the EU that was there to help them with workers rights, regional investment, and hassle-free travel.

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