Boris Johnson does not care about Northern Ireland and is threatening its peace deal because of his Brexit ideology, one of the country’s peace architects has claimed.
Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief negotiator on Northern Ireland, warned Johnson and his former Brexit minister David Frost have risked “all the work” that went into reaching the Good Friday Agreement.
And he warned Northern Ireland’s devolved government could crumble if Westminster politicians do not solve the issues created by Brexit.
‘Brexit requires someone to get hurt’
He told The Guardian: “You have to face up to the fact that Brexit requires someone to get hurt.”
“What worries me is the casual political vandalism. They really don’t seem to care.
“I mean, the damage they are doing to the very fragile political settlements in Northern Ireland, by posturing on things like the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which do not matter to voters in Northern Ireland.
He added: “They may matter to Boris Johnson and some supporters [in the government] and the ideological base.
“But is it really worth sacrificing all the work that previous generation of politicians put into the Northern Ireland peace process on ideological altar of the ECJ?”
Powell was referring to repeated claims by the Tories that they wanted to strip EU judges of their power to oversee the Northern Ireland Protocol, an attempt which Frost softened before he resigned.
And, despite repeated threats made by Johnson to the EU that the UK would trigger Article 16 of the Protocol, prompted by pressure from Unionists, he has not yet acted on them.
Referendum on uniting Ireland?
Powell also warned there could be a referendum on reuniting Ireland if there is clear support for it, amid permanent divisions caused by Brexit in Northern Ireland.
He said: “Imagine if you have a border poll on a united Ireland and 48 per cent for remaining in the United Kingdom, a bit like the Brexit referendum.
“People don’t want to address that problem. I understand. But it’s the fear of that that’s causing the trouble.”
Meanwhile, the DUP urged the UK government to make progress on the Protocol by the end of January, calling it a “crucial month”.
“If we don’t get rapid and decisive progress, and one side or the other is kicking the can down the road, this will have major implications for the stability of the political institutions in Northern Ireland,” said DUP leaer Jeffrey Donaldson.
In October, a European Law Professor warned the UK society, economy and trade are suffering from “serious problems” caused by Boris Johnson’s pursuit of a ‘hard Brexit’.
Michael Dougan, from the University of Liverpool, explained the government’s Brexit position: “We’re not prepared to make compromises, and we just want everything. We want to have our hard Brexit, we want to not have a border across the island of Ireland, and we don’t want to have a border down the Irish Sea. And we want you, the EU, just to give that to us.”
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