What happens next after the law repealing the Northern Ireland Protocol is passed by the House of Commons? How close could we be to a UK-EU trade war?
At one level, that of the parliamentary process, the answer is prosaic – legislation goes to the Lords. But it won’t be introduced in the UK House of Lords until the autumn.
There’s that summer respite that might chill passions even as the mercury rises. Not too many politicians will think deeply about the bill during their annual break. But the politicians, the officials assigned to the area and non-governmental study groups will do it. So does the European Commission, which is never sleepy but always aware.
Many diplomats and mandarins representing this country will have been disappointed with the bill’s relatively smooth passage through the House of Commons – although there have been dire warnings from some Tory grandees, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, while he has regrets from the opposition and vilified, from Labor to the Liberals and the SNP. Even the DUP had to take a more sad than angry approach.
Ultimately, when Boris Johnson took his swan song by the shipping box, there was relatively little incentive for his enemies to mount an attack on what is basically a draftsman’s reflection of his typically thoughtless and ruthless approach… even if that particular child of Boris was worn by Liz Truss, a slavish loyalist, until her selfish motives propelled her to higher goals.
Truss subtly treated Boris the way he treated Theresa – right flanking. It’s obviously still a tactic that works within the Tory ranks, as evidenced by their progression to final elimination with easy membership in a head-to-head bout with Rishi Sunak.
Openly backed by Fleet Street’s shrillest organs, Truss is the new champion of the right. If and when she becomes prime minister – she is currently forecast to prevail over the former chancellor – she cannot relinquish the iconic Protocol Act. Instead, it waves like the banner of restored British glory and the state of emergency, an essential quintessential truss version of the tinny Iron Lady. Everything else is details.
In such an analysis, the bill is Brexit on Brexit… the British are leaving behind in their own sense of entitlement the parts they did not like when they left the EU behind. And what can the EU, powerless on the horizon beyond the white cliffs of Dover, possibly do about it?
Sunak would probably be more forgiving and accommodating, but it’s even more likely he won’t get a chance.
And so the Bill, unchanged, will begin its passage in the Lords. It will no doubt have a far harsher ride here.
The House of Lords has many cross-benchers who are no match for the dingy political exigencies of the House of Commons. There are many thinkers, scientists, ex-judges, former ambassadors and colonial governors, personalities of rank and therefore greater minds.
Think of David Putnam, who resigned over Brexit and recently became an Irish citizen but once wore the ermine. There are many like him – and they are appalled at what Johnsonianism has done to Britain’s standing in the world. They’re lurking for that bill.
However, even if the government’s will were to be thwarted, the Lords can only delay legislation. Under the Act of Parliament – ironically introduced in response to the Lords’ repeated blocking of Home Rule – the Commons will be able to pass the bill after a year without the Lords’ assent.
But there’s still a lot more water to pass under the bridge before then… and a lot more rust to collect on the padlocks surrounding the devolved government in Stormont.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/northern-ireland-protocol-what-happens-next-41858832.html Northern Ireland Protocol – what’s next?