Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Only fools make deals with liars

Northern Ireland went to the polls last week, resulting in Sinn Féin becoming the largest party, the first time an Irish party has done so. Naturally, the unionists are not taking this well, and are threatening to use their minority-veto to prevent any government being formed. They're also demanding the immediate revocation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the part of the UK's Brexit deal covering the UK's land border with the EU in Ireland. And of course the Tories in Westminster are going to do it:

Liz Truss is reportedly preparing draft legislation that would unilaterally scrap key parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, removing the need for checks on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

No bill was announced in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday but the foreign secretary is reported to have asked officials to prepare the draft, which would put the UK in breach of its treaty obligations.

As well as scrapping checks, the draft legislation would also take away powers of the European court of justice and remove all requirement for Northern Irish businesses to follow EU regulations.

Effectively, this is the UK tearing up its Brexit deal and saying "fuck you" to the EU - a deal made less only three years ago. This is obviously going to create problems with the EU, but it goes wider than that. To point out the obvious, Aotearoa recently concluded a free trade agreement with the UK - one with some controversial provisions. And the UK has just told us, and the world, that we have no reason to believe that they will keep up their end of it.

This is not acceptable. Only fools make deals with liars, and if we want treaties to be kept, we need to engage in collective action to incentivise keeping them. If the UK cheats on its commitments to the EU, we should suspend implementation of the FTA until they reverse that position and meet all their commitments. Otherwise, we have only ourselves to blame when they break their word to us as well.