Two more illustrations of the disastrous nature of Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea border

News Letter editorial of Friday April 23 2021:

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 10:50 am
News Letter editorial

The scandal of Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea border gets ever more apparent.

The Health Minister Robin Swann has confirmed that Northern Ireland will operate under different regulatory rules for medicines and medical devices than the rest of the UK as a result of the NI Protocol.

Jim Allister QC was, as he so often is, one of the first to raise the alarm about the consequences of this arrangement, which fully kicks in next year.

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While Mr Swann is right to say that “any extension to a grace period would be welcome,” no-one should be under any illusions as to the ultimate inadequacy of such an extension.

It would merely delay the arrival of a completely unacceptable state of affairs, in which there was no longer unfettered movement of drugs within the NHS.

It is scarcely believable that a UK prime minister agreed such an arrangement, yet that is what Boris Johnson did in 2019.

Meanwhile four ponies bought by Co Down woman for her daughter were detained at Belfast after arriving from Liverpool, due to deficiencies in protocol veterinary forms.

It is welcome that a judge has ordered their release, but that too is ultimately an irrelevant judgement. The matter in hand is not the fate of these four ponies, but the disastrous legal concession to the EU that led to them being detained.

Edwin Poots is of course right to say the protocol is entirely to blame but his hope that all parties will “work together to remove this imposition” is bound to be a forlorn one.

Nationalists will happily help with the symptoms of the protocol but will never agree to the reversal of their biggest constitutional victory in a century.

Once again the response of the two main unionist parties is in the spotlight.

If unionists acquiesce in North-South ministerial meetings or their departments implement the protocol then London, Dublin and the EU will have good reason to be greatly reassured by unionist pragmatism about an unforgivable political betrayal.

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