If you’re sweating heavily at the prospect of Britain passing laws which will be in contravention of its UK-EU agreement in the Withdrawal Bill, stop. No need to worry. The Bill is due to go to its second reading today but Huzzah! The SDLP – Colum Eastwood and Claire Hannah – are going to put a block on all that. They’re going to strangle the second reading even before it occurs, “because it is a self-described breach of international law as per the Ireland protocol and an outright violation of the Good Friday Agreement, including by undermining the power of devolved institutions”
Bet the Shinners are kicking themselves that they’re not able to use big words like those or stand up in the Commons chamber while sticking their thumbs in the Withdrawal flood-wall.The Shinners will sulk and skulk outside the House of Commons chamber, but the SDLP will be inside it, going down in history. (No, Virginia, I did NOT say ‘down in flames’).
And the SDLP’s partners down south, Fianna Fáil, are equally astute. Their leader and Taoiseach Micheál Martin talks in blunt, no-nonsense terms: Boris Johnson is “creating assertions that are in no way connected with the reality as contained within the protocol or withdrawal agreement”. Or as it might put language that can be understood: “Boris is lying about what’s in the Withdrawal Agreement.” So why does Micheál talk that way? Partly to create a cloud of unknowing between himself and his listeners, thus making it much easier to deny that he ever said it, should that prove necessary at a later date. And partly because the words sound so grown-up and parliamentary.
Will Johnson follow through and break Britain’s word on an international agreement? It’s perfectly possible. Johnson has used the paddies (aka the DUP) before, and he won’t mind really if they start killing each other again. The UK’s territorial integrity? Forget it. Johnson shafted the DUP and he doesn’t mind allowing the paddies to recommence shafting each other.
Only one thing really matters to the Tories: that the British public buys the promise of jam tomorrow, in a world where nations form an orderly line in Downing Street to beg the UK to sign trade deals with them, and where the door of No 10 is answered by a unicorn on its hind legs, wearing a frilly apron with the embroidered slogan “Britons never never shall be slaves!”