Richard Nixon was talking about his diplomatic “madman theory.” The former US president wanted Vietnamese Communists to think he was crazy enough to even win a national war with nuclear weapons.
After all, he wasn’t that crazy and they weren’t that naive. The rest is history, and the bloody thing at the time was that the conflict ended with American humiliation.
Some people in Brussels believe that Boris Johnson spent months developing a similar “madman” approach to Northern Ireland (in fact, Michel Barnier was “no deal” in 2020. He used his memoirs to mock tactics when applied to the threat).
By allowing Brexit Minister David Frost to play fiercely over trade issues across the Irish Sea, the Prime Minister said he really did, despite all potentially deadly consequences for peace. A province that was seen trying to scare the EU when it was ready to break its agreement with them.
But is there any obvious madness after Brussels’ latest concession on the implementation of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol that governs post-Brexit relations? Frost is optimistic that he began negotiations with EU counterpart Maroš Šefchovic on Friday and finally has something concrete to negotiate with.
We have reduced customs clearance for goods sent from the UK, created a new agreement on medicines, and reduced food safety checks by 80% (allowing UK Bangors to flow freely). The “sausage war” may be over forever.
But most notably about the concessions, the Brussels authorities were able to sell the concessions to skeptical EU member states as a product of Northern Ireland’s business demands, rather than the UK government’s demands. Indeed, one Belfast business chief said that the practical change to bureaucracy was almost a “carbon copy” of what he and others were looking for.
There is a lesson for the recently emerging Prime Minister to change the “sexual intercourse business” from a slogan to a recent policy goal. What Northern Ireland companies didn’t want was the removal of protocol oversight by the European Court of Justice, which Frost declared to be a “fundamental” issue.
Government sources argue that the problem is to build a “politically durable” solution that binds the Ulster Unionist Party’s consent. But if London could get a more practical “win” in product checks, despite the hint yesterday that the EU ambassador’s hint to Britain had an alternative “mechanism” to maintain ECJ’s dominance. It is unclear how much London will drive this issue.
However, Downing Street has a stronger hand than many admit. If the concessions are not convincing (and details such as the definition of “retailer” or an online check that is as cumbersome as a paper check are not resolved), Johnson and Frost easily trigger “Article 16” of the protocol. And then the rules.
Importantly, the current trade turmoil means that they are within the legal right to do so. Will it cause a trade war this time? According to one EU source, Brussels is not afraid to use its huge size. “Remember two things. We are not afraid to be ready.” But if London narrows the proceedings in Article 16, the EU has no basis for disciplinary tariffs. ..
Instead, the EU may be forced to rely on “monitoring” measures to ensure that its single market rule is still being followed. It will force Ireland into an unpleasant position to take coercive action against Irish companies suspected in some way breaking rules in trade with Northern Ireland companies.
The bigger problem is the prime minister’s politics, especially in England, as No. 10 continues to play hardball (Thursday night, there is still a “substantial gap” between the two). It’s about thinking that you’re out of a continuous story.
Contrary to the 2019 election pitch, there is a risk of giving the impression that Brexit has not yet been “completed”. Redwall voters told Tory voters that year they had no interest in Ulster. That’s why Johnson chose to sell out the Democratic Unionist Party when he agreed to his deal.
Johnson has the impression that his “oven-ready” deal, which had to be popped in a microwave oven with a majority of 80 seats, was so heated that it was so unpalatable that it needed to be chucked into a jar. There is a risk of giving.
From the daily lives of many people about the superiority of the European Court of Justice (which may remind him of his own MP, which gave him the final decision on the rights of EU citizens in the UK by 2028). You may feel that you are millions of miles away.
Adding more bread and butter issues, such as the cost of living crisis, voters may wonder why he isn’t doing his daily work.
Still, just as the blockade of French fishermen falls into the hands of Reeve voters and the Prime Minister, regular skirmishes with Brussels in Northern Ireland are “see, this is why we left, people.” Can be abused by him to say.
In fact, at least politically, Brexit may never be “done” for some Tories. Britain is always in front of the European Union, just as Mexico and Canada cannot ignore the United States, and states like South Korea and Vietnam (now capitalist countries) cannot ignore China. Trade, security and climate change can be criticized and bartered, but we don’t want them.
When it comes to Northern Ireland peace negotiations, the eternal war over Brexit can be crazy, terrible and dangerous to know. But that hasn’t stopped Johnson so far.