DERRY JOURNAL Editorial: Time for those who delivered us Brexit and the Protocol to start recognising the backstop's advantages
It’s time for all parties to start showing some leadership around the Protocol.
If anyone believes the EU is going to concede any further ground on what it already considers a concession, they are confusing dreams with reality.
For better or worse it an essential mechanism that was negotiated to avoid the imposition of a hard border in Ireland.
And, whether they choose to accept responsibility or not, it was sired by those hard Brexiteers, in Ireland and Britain, who insisted not only on leaving the EU but on departing the internal market and the customs union as well.
Had Britain bailed out of Europe but remained in the latter spheres we would not be in the position we are. The Protocol belongs to the fundamentalist leavers.
Perhaps that’s why some of the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from those quarters about the damaging impact of the ‘Irish Sea border’ is so overdone.
There have been complaints about a dearth of Cumberland sausages. Who eats them? Instead of conjuring bogeymen and whipping up constitutional fears energies would be far more usefully directed at supporting our own agri-food producers and facilitating import substitution.
Despite opposing Brexit, due to concern over the obvious vandalism it would inflict on the economies of these islands, some are sensibly arguing it’s now time to get on with it.
At the Executive Office Committee on Friday, in what is likely to have been her last intervention at Stormont as an MLA, Martina Anderson, pointed out to the British Brexit minister David Frost how the Protocol gives the north advantageous access to the EU single market.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and his Brexit spokesman Matthew O’Toole have both argued we should seize the opportunities provided by our dual membership of both the EU Single Market and the UK’s customs territory. It is fairly transparent some oppose the Protocol for constitutional reasons.
But as Mr. Frost said on Friday: “Nothing in the Protocol affects that. That’s clear.” The Protocol is going nowhere and it is time to start leveraging the advantages it offers.