Brexit chickens coming home to roost

And now the blame game begins

“It’s all going terribly well, and even where it isn’t, it’s not our fault, it’s theirs.” “But look at the astronomical price of chicken!” “Yes, but it’s not our fault, it’s theirs.” “The Northern Ireland Protocol isn’t working, in fact it’s a total disaster!” “Yes, but it’s not our fault, it’s theirs!” “The Bank of England is reporting that Brexit is costing the UK £444 million a week.” “Yes, but it’s not our fault…” You get the picture; you see the pattern as Johnson’s “oven-ready deal” turns to ashes in all our mouths.

To quote Shakespeare, as far as Brexit is concerned, “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they follow.” The most glaring example of Boris Johnson’s “brilliant” Brexit deal gone dramatically wrong is of course the Northern Ireland protocol. It simply doesn’t and never could have worked. Despite the Prime Minister repeatedly stating there was “no question of there being checks on goods going NI-GB or GB-NI,” that is not the reality of the deal he negotiated and signed. Johnson himself finally admitted the truth when he said on Channel 4 news, “Yes, I agreed it. I hoped and believed our friends would not necessarily want to apply it.” What does he take the EU for? Does he honestly believe that anyone on the other side of the negotiating table would have signed a legally-binding contract and then ignored what that contract stated?

Now government ministers line up to endure embarrassing television interviews, feebly defending Johnson and perpetuating the “It’s not our fault, it’s theirs,” strategy. Business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng called the EU “unreasonable” and “intransigent” in their approach to the protocol. Attorney General Suella Braverman, who should know the law better than anyone in government, blamed the EU for creating a border in the Irish Sea when effectively that is precisely what Johnson’s deal achieved. Braverman also advised the government that legislation to override the protocol would be legal because the EU’s implementation of it is “disproportionate and unreasonable.”

Foreign secretary Liz Truss subsequently told Parliament that the government plans new legislation that will “make changes” to the protocol. She said, “Our proposed solution would meet both our and the EU’s original objectives for the protocol.” That seems unlikely, as Brussels has already signalled that any such move risks a full-scale trade war. Protocol aside, other Brexit issues also receive the “don’t blame us” treatment. The Prime Minister also says our cost-of-living crisis is Brussels’ fault and, although the poultry industry blames the soaring cost of chicken on Brexit, Johnson puts that one down to global energy prices.

Meanwhile Brexit Opportunities Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg claims Brexit is “already a success.” Perhaps he’s thinking of the Food Standards Agency decision to scrap a rule on radioactivity levels, meaning that fish and vegetables from near the old Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan can be sold in Britain. But if it all goes disastrously wrong, remember – “It’s not our fault, it’s theirs.”

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