The Tory Government have u-turned on how to negotiate Brexit; it seems that negotiation in good faith works. The UK Government and the EU have agreed on revising the Northern Ireland Protocol which dealt with issues relating to Northern Ireland’s trade with the EU and Great Britain. This agreement is being called in the short-term the Windsor framework.

In summary, goods not destined to be moved from Northern Ireland will not be checked, creating a green lane entry. The ECJ remains the ultimate arbiter of EU law even that which applies to Northern Ireland although the Future Trade & Co-operation treaty structures will act as a gateway and the Stormont assembly have been given a dual key brake which is claimed to give the Unionists (and the Nationalists) the ability to veto EU laws that apply to Northern Ireland. In the latter case, the devil is in the detail. Steve Peers has a detailed breakdown of the terms of the revised treaty.The UK Government have agreed to withdraw the Bill that would enact the revocation of the Northern Ireland protocol, and the EU have agreed to drop their legal counter action.

Sunak hails this as a great victory, claiming that Northern Ireland is unique in that it’s in both the UK and EU, and that is attractive to investors. Others were quick to point out that the whole of the UK was in that position until recently. He also claimed as an advantage that the people of Northern Ireland would be able to buy the same food as in Great Britain and a number of wits replied to this,

Obviously those of us who want to rejoin will be using the advantages of this deal for Northern Ireland as a platform for arguing that if it’s right for Northern Ireland, it’s right for the rest of the UK and I am sure the Scots will agree once the SNP sort themselves out.

Two outstanding problems are the DUP and the outstanding need to introduce customs checks on British side of the customs border between it and the EU. Will the DUP accept this, will they understand that with a Tory majority of 80, their veto on compromise within Northern Ireland has once again disappeared. Also when or if the UK customs checks are implemented, will they apply to trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain?

Another person who is going to have to think about what want, do and say, is Kier Starmer. Sunak has shown greater flexibility than expected, and the Tories are already looking to colonise Starmer’s slogan of “Fix Brexit” claiming to have done it. Starmer it is claimed wants to reset Brexit for the whole of the UK. The danger of triangulation is that you can be wrong footed by dexterous opponents and the class interests of the Tory Party do not favour Brexit.

One huge loser of this is Boris Johnson, who was canvassing opposition to the revised treaty. It seems this is going nowhere in the Tory Party and may lead to Sunak finally being able to impose a whip on his parliamentary party. Lord David Frost is also uncharacteristically silent. Negotiation in good faith has achieved what abusive grandstanding has not. Let’s just hope that Sunak has the courage to see off his backwoodsmen.

Bye Bye, Northern Ireland Protocol

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