This was Lord Sumption’s view of the Prime Minister’s Covid ‘Freedom Day’: We should have heard the ringing words of a complete break with wretched and destructive lockdowning, of each taking our responsibility, of the return of basic freedoms and cultural sustenance.
We got nothing of the kind. Instead, the ‘experts’ went berserk to save the lockdown at all costs. We are as much restricted via the lunatic pingdemic system as we were at the start of this horrible pandemic.
Lord Sumption was a Remainer, but his analysis also fits precisely to another of Johnson’s much-hyped promises – to ‘get Brexit done’. We were assured it was was an ‘oven-ready deal’, it was to avoid ‘vassalage’, to get back British waters from foreign control, including the Scottish fisheries.
In the event, ‘the PM caved under pressure and left us with more rules than we had’ before Brexit – with Northern Ireland being hacked away from the UK as a punishment beating from the Brussels Cosa Nostra.
Johnson said repeatedly that he would happily ‘walk away’ from the Brexit negotiations on the default World Trade Organisation terms. But there was not hint of preparation for this to be possible – the EU negotiators saw that, and knew they could face him down. And he bottled it again.
He signed the Withdrawal Agreement with some important modifications, a terrible trade deal gaining us nothing and giving away all the EU wanted.
And he signed the Northern Ireland Protocol, which includes Article 16, the get-out clause if the NIP causes suffering and mayhem. That is now happening, and Article 16 – which we must now stress often – was what the EU signed up to, and then triggered for purely political grounds, blocking vaccines from the UK.
The Government has been appeasing the EU from day one of the volatile Brexit deal, failing to take it to court over discrimination against the UK on basic WTO equivalence, which the UK has granted the EU.
The Government has tried hard to ‘make the Protocol work’, to ‘sandpaper’ it into a workable shape. But the EU is adamant – it demands the full NIP, whatever bad impacts this has on the people of Northern Ireland, it in effect demands a kind of suffocation of the Unionist position and status.
Yet still the Government kowtows and pleads for a reasonable relationship. It does not mention, let alone request, basic modern customs arrangements, smart digitised recognitions, for the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Blocking that has been the EU’s strategy to cause the border problem and a sea customs border.
Professor Graham Gudgin’s evidence to Parliament on the NIP is required reading. He told how modern technology could remove any tensions around the UK and EU border: ‘Prosperity UK published a major report, Alternative Arrangements for the Irish Border, authored by a commission chaired by Greg Hands MP and Nicky Morgan MP.
‘The report advocated the use of trusted trader status and checks away from the border, supported by tracking technology on cross-border consignments.
‘The report was part-written and backed by two senior European Customs officials, Lars Karlsson and Hans Maessen. The former, a previous head of the World Customs Association, had written the EU’s official report on customs arrangements for the Irish border.
‘Although the EU showed some initial interest, it soon changed tack to reject this approach. Remainer media in the UK and elsewhere took the line that the technology did not exist, despite the participation of Fujitsu in the commission and its assertion that they already possessed the technology.
‘The UK Government failed to press the matter in the face of EU and Irish opposition. By the time the report was issued in August 2019, the EU had a settled strategy of locating the customs border at the Irish sea coast of Northern Ireland.’
The UK has not pressed at all to revisit these obvious technological solutions to the EU-confected tensions. British governmental statecraft betrayed the UK and the people of Northern Ireland by failing to insist on modern customs methods and kowtowing – caving in under pressure, to use the Sumption phrase.
This policy of instant appeasement and refusal to stand up to EU pressure goes on. Indeed, the Government’s ‘roadmap’ on Northern Ireland, leaked to the BBC – as reported by Professor Gudgin in his Briefings for Britain analysis – proposed no changes at all to the NIP.
The ‘grace period’ for transitioning to the new system, extended by the UK and then humbly ‘requested’ again by our suppliant government, will end and then chaos will truly hit the unconsulted folk of Northern Ireland.
We read: ‘Customs declarations, veterinary certificates and checks will become significantly more problematic once the grace periods end for food and medicines.
‘A UK “roadmap”, leaked to the BBC, outlined UK intentions to end the grace periods starting with meat in October. There was little in this roadmap to suggest that the UK was seeking substantial changes in the Protocol to ease the trade difficulties.
‘There was nothing about customs-free movement of goods by supermarkets, or for medicines within the NHS or pharmacies or materials or vehicle movements by the military.’
So HMG, with Michael Gove and his Remainer Whitehall handlers pulling the strings, plans a full-on surrender and hell for the Northern Irish Unionists.
Our chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost is – as was the case prior to the cave-in on December 31 – seeking to fight off the EU assaults, with Johnson doing his robust rhetoric bit.
But deep government in the UK does not plan to trigger Article 16 on the grounds of real suffering and disruption to the province and the Unionists. And HMG fails even to rebut the false claims of the EU propagandists of the UK breaking rules, refusing to do what they signed up to, being untrustworthy, acting in bad faith.
Dominic Raab, our Foreign Secretary and former Brexiteer, even said it was the UK that was responsible for the chill in relations between the EU and UK!
The smell of appeasement suffuses this government. And failing to rebut false allegations, let alone counter them with the truth, leads to international belief that the UK is in the wrong.
New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern, for example, threatens to block the UK’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership on the grounds, she implies, that the UK does not stick to basic international rules.
She seems to refer to the NIP – but ignores Article 16, signed up to by the EU, a fully legal rule which the UK can and should implement soon.
The absurdity of Ardern’s threat needs to be put in the context of EU rule-keeping in its single market and customs regulations. It’s the EU breaking the trade rules, not the UK.
For example, Volkswagen has been exporting cars which break emissions regulations and faces billions in fines in the US. But VW will not pay a penny to British car owners – and no doubt our government, always adopting the whipped puppy attitude, will not demand it.
And, Ms Ardern, the EU has lowered the standards of its agricultural practice, feeding ground-up dead animals to livestock. As Briefings for Britain asks: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ Well, BSE springs to mind.
So this EU seizure of Northern Ireland trade flow rests on corrupt and bogus grounds. The province needs far safer meat from the UK, not this risky EU produce.
But we can hardly blame Ms Ardern for being misled in this, because the UK government apparachiks fail to make these points, fail to defend us and allow false charges to stick. The apparachik in the Lords, Lord Benyon, sought to make nothing of the BSE risk – more appeasement.
As the author of the Briefings for Britain article, Catherine MacBride, says: ‘So, just to summarise for those who haven’t been paying attention over the past few weeks: The UK’s National Farmers Union is demanding that the Department for International Trade not sign trade deals with countries whose agricultural standards are “lower” than the UK’s, even if only different due to different customs or climates, but the Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity has just said in the House of Lords that the UK is already importing agricultural products produced to a lower standard and produced using animal feed that is banned for use by UK farmers.’ Got that, Ms Ardern?
The UK trade deal with Australia limits the amount of healthy beef we can import, even when our farmers – subsidised as they are – can’t meet the UK demand.
But HMG is saying we can import Irish beef, as much as we like, even if possibly fed by BSE-infected animal feed. Lord Benyon, join the Homer Simpson Conservative Club of Sedition and Incompetence.
The UK public needs to be told that the Government is not preparing to use all this evidence to trigger Article 16. It is just hoping that the Unionists will accept their fate and the UK will probably lose a province.