Last month, Boris Johnson charged the European Union with « carving up » the United Kingdom. According to the Prime Minister, the Brexit deal, that was signed one year ago, is “threatening the integrity” of Great-Britain and “imposing a blockade” in the Irish Sea.
Is the EU really putting in danger the integrity of the country ?
Boris Johnson’s statement is mostly false as regards the divorce treaty between the EU and the UK.
In order to respect the Good Friday Agreement, that established peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after years of conflict, both the EU and the UK agreed on a complex deal. The aim was to avoid re-establishing a terrestrial border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In the treaty, it is explained that Northern Ireland belongs to the United Kingdom Customs Union but must comply with European Union standards. Therefore, Boris Johnson fears a blockade from the European Union if goods are not up to standard. In a column published in September in The Daily Telegraph, he wrote: “ We are being told that the EU will not only impose tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but that they might actually stop the transport of food products from GB to NI ”.
The first part of the statement cannot be considered as true. As a matter of fact, the deal indicates that products coming from Britain to Northern Ireland will not be taxed. European taxes should only be applied to products that are transiting in Northern Ireland, going from Britain to the Republic of Ireland.
Boris Johnson’s fear of seeing the European Union stopping the transport of food products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland refers to another part of the deal. Indeed, the European Union and the United Kingdom agreed on Northern Ireland being subject to European customs rules. The health checks taking place at the Irish border are, therefore, regulated by the European Union. Every product coming from Britain that might not respect European norms may be forbidden.
Therefore, the European Union is not really endangering the integrity of the United Kingdom. Rather, it is Boris Johnson who is exaggerating the meaning of the text of the treaty. According to the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, Boris Johnson would endanger the integrity of the United Kingdom because of his about-turn. This about-turn could prevent some communities from trusting the British government and could affect the willingness of the people of Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. According to Theresa May, his attitude is irresponsible and imprudent.
On October 1st, the European Union launched an infringement procedure against the United Kingdom. For the moment, negotiations between the two parties to avoid a no deal on January 1st are still at an impasse.
Boris Johnson’s assertion is ….
Marion Pépin , Anna Huot