The prime minister has nerve to turn up in Northern Ireland and say that his Brexit deal was misunderstood

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Boris Johnson has nerve to turn up in Northern Ireland as he did yesterday and say about his deal:

“... it allows the whole of the UK to leave while making sure there is not any border at all between Northern Ireland and the south, but also ... no friction at all west-east or east-west.”

What nonsense. The prime minister came to the DUP conference a year ago and expressed his detailed contempt for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, with its backstop, and how no PM would so detach the Province from Great Britain.

Weeks later, in early 2019, he voted for that very deal in its third attempt to get through the House of Commons. There was understandably much wariness of Mr Johnson after that.

This year his conduct was even worse. In NI for the election hustings in July, at the NI Conservatives event at the Tory conference in Manchester in October and again at the DUP reception there, he again emphasised his unionism.

Within hours of that reception, the outline of his initial offer to the EU, of a full regulatory border in the Irish Sea, in other words a massive internal UK border, had been unveiled.

When Ireland expressed polite contempt for that offer he quickly went back fully on his word in a meeting with Leo Varadkar in Cheshire and introduced a customs border too.

There is trickery about NI supposedly staying in EU customs territory but all we do know that Dublin and Brussels were delighted and saw it as a complete climbdown. His own ministers did not know if there would be customs checks.

Now Mr Johnson says there has “been a lot of misunderstanding about the deal” and that he wishes “we could have spent a bit more time explaining it” because there will be no checks. It is he who did not take time to explain it to the DUP.

Mr Johnson is right to say that Jeremy Corbyn is a terrifying prospect as PM because he has never disowned terror.

But if unionists hold the balance of power in the coming Parliament, at least they now know for sure that everything the current Tory leader says must be assumed to be insincere.