The see-sawing in the government’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol became more pronounced yesterday.
There was a report in the press that Liz Truss was planning to take action over it.
There was a tweet from the ITV political editor, Robert Peston (see below), suggesting that concrete moves against the Irish Sea border were going to be taken.
There was a media account of critical things that Boris Johnson reportedly said to the Taoiseach Micheal Martin about it.
There was a vague reference in the Queen’s Speech to the “continued success and integrity of the whole of the” UK being “of paramount importance to my government, including the internal economic bonds between all of its parts”.
Support for “the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and its institutions” was a priority for the government, we were told.
A longer, written version of the Queen’s Speech had further references to the Irish Sea border, but still there was no detail as to how and when it would be rectified.
Meanwhile, the Irish language was not mentioned in the shorter version of the Queen’s Speech as red out by Prince Charles at the opening of parliament. But an elaborate commitment to legislate for a gaelic law was buried in the longer Queen’s Speech.
This was just the scenario that this column warned of yesterday. That, once again, a Tory government would give greater weight to a nationalist demand than a unionist one. Indeed, worse than that, it would give greater concern to a nationalist demand on a matter of limited significance, language, than to unionist demands on a matter of constitutional significance.
But last night the see-sawing continued. Liz Truss said Northern Ireland is “subject to different laws and taxes than those over the Irish Sea, which has left them without an Executive and poses a threat to peace and stability” (see below).
Is this the awaited breakthrough? It sounds like it might be. But who can be surprised if unionists can’t quite believe it.
• Other commentary:
• Ruth Dudley Edwards May 10: The nationalist vote is nowhere near enough for border poll
• Editorial May 10: If Irish language gets pledge today so must an overhaul of protocol
• Ben Lowry May 9: The TUV vote surge should have been one of the main stories of the election
• Owen Polley May 9: Unionists have an issue with sectarian SF, not with nationalism
• Emma Little Pengelly May 9: There has been no increase in the nationalist vote in 25 years
• Henry McDonald May 9: A few facts are in order amid breathless reportage about SF
• Editorial May 9: It is clear that unionists need to have option of voting for a liberal party
• Ben Lowry May 7: Unionism now faces a considerable challenge in how to go forward
• Henry McDonald May 7: Sinn Fein’s day in the sun but no new dawn for Irish unity
• Editorial May 7: Unionism more than ever needs London’s help on the protocol
• Ben Lowry May 7: Unionist overall vote stays ahead of nationalist total, albeit narrowly
• Brian John Spencer: Unionism was given no wriggle room by nationalism