The Conservative government is to blame for the Northern Ireland Protocol, not Irish nationalists

A letter from Matthew Coyle:

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 10:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 11:02 am
The protocol was agreed by Boris Johnson ultimately endorsed by a large, cross-party majority in the House of Commons in October 2019, above

I read Philip Wilson’s recent Robert Caro-themed jeremiad (‘Unionists see how they’d be treated in a nationalist future,’ April 14, see link below) with interest.

I noticed within it not even a passing reference to the real authors of the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, namely the Conservative and (alleged) Unionist Party, and the English nativist base to which it is in hock.

Mr Wilson’s commentary, and the mental contortions needed to reconcile reality and aspiration, is fairly typical of the myopia now plaguing certain strains of unionism.

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Letter to the editor

Just like the trade borders that render it necessary, the protocol is a creature of Brexit and that is precisely where the problems lie.

Designed and proposed by Her Majesty’s Government — after the prime minister reneged on yet another vow, this one to unionists — the protocol was ultimately endorsed by a large, cross-party majority at Westminster.

In truth, the people responsible for the prevailing strife are reckless Tory voters and the zealots in the ‘European Research Group’, whose minority Europhobic government was, for two years, offered crucial, make-or-break support by political unionism.

Irish nationalists, in contrast, have never held the balance of power in London; nor has the EU.

It is utterly fanciful to suggest that Northern Ireland’s latest difficulties stem from anywhere other than the rich seam of careless ignorance running through this Conservative regime.

The present arrangements seem very likely to survive their brush with ‘combined unionist and loyalist opposition’, given that they enjoy the joint backing of the sovereign UK parliament, the world’s most powerful economic bloc and its mightiest nation.

We should all expect the protocol to remain in place for as long as this government resists the regulatory alignment required to make it redundant.

Matthew Coyle, Holywood

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