Tories’ Brexit derangement syndrome was in full swing as Truss gave statement on plan to disapply Northern Ireland protocol
There was going to be hell to pay when Liz Truss found out who had negotiated, agreed and signed the Northern Ireland protocol. What’s more, no one had ever said there was an election-winning, oven-ready Brexit deal on the table back in 2019. That was the kind of shameless lie only opposition parties could tell …
Boris Johnson has the knack of bringing everyone down to his level in the end. Corrupt, narcissistic, incompetent. The foreign secretary is just the latest – if entirely complicit – victim in this. So when she came to the Commons to give her statement on government plans to disapply the Northern Ireland protocol, Truss was in a full-on state of denial. Any correlation between what she said and the truth was entirely coincidental. And if she had accidentally mouthed the odd truth she would definitely make sure that she never made that mistake again.
What we got was slurred ramblings reminiscent of someone strung out on fentanyl. The Northern Ireland protocol had never been intended to be set in stone. It had always been just a temporary fix until the UK government came up with something it liked better. Really? Truss clearly hadn’t been following how the Convict had sold it to the country back in 2019. Then it had been the answer – the Magic Bullet – to every Brexiter’s dreams.
There was clearly a part of Truss that knew she was spewing a word salad of bollocks because she stumbled over sentences and spoke in a robotic monotone. As if struggling to disengage from what’s left of her conscience. Telling lies on this scale must be so corrosive to any sense of personal integrity and self-worth. There may still be a small part of her that knows she is a fraud. But it must be silenced. She has sold her soul in the belief that her ambition can only be realised by out-Convicting the Convict. It won’t end well. Sleep-walking and washing her hands.
Yet on she went. The protocol had had unintended consequences. Consequences, such as a border in the Irish Sea, that had been widely predicted long before the Brexit deal had been agreed. But Truss was at pains to point out that she wasn’t planning to scrap the protocol. Just render it totally unrecognisable unless the EU happened to agree to everything the UK government asked.
And it was definitely legal to break international laws. She knew that because the government had taken advice from a top lawyer, though she couldn’t say who that top lawyer was because it was a secret. Luckily she didn’t need to. The attorney-general, Suella Braverman, was sitting right by her side. Something that should have given most Tories some pause for thought, as Braverman is one of the dimmest lawyers around. The kind of lawyer that none of her peers would even trust to witness a passport photo. Still, she is totally compliant and will say whatever is required. Which is why Johnson values her.
Stephen Doughty, standing in for David Lammy, who was self-isolating, tried to spell out a few home truths. It had been Johnson’s government who had come up with the protocol. Truss shook her head. It definitely hadn’t been. Doughty pressed on. Either the government hadn’t understood what it was signing up to, or it had always intended to renege on the deal. He foolishly missed out an obvious third option. That the Convict and Truss hadn’t had a clue what they were doing and had planned on tearing up the agreement.
Labour was all for small amendments to the protocol, said Doughty. Like ending checks on sandwiches that had no chance of being smuggled over the border to the republic. These he was sure the EU could agree to. But bigger changes were a fantasy. Something that would not only spark a trade war with the EU – Truss perked up at this: she’s always fancied herself as a latter-day Gloriana draped in a union jack – but would send a message to the rest of the world that the UK could not be trusted to keep any of its international obligations.
Now Truss fully lost the plot. It was like this, she said. The UK had only agreed to the protocol because it had never expected the EU to actually apply it. She had always thought that the EU had been negotiating in equally as bad faith as the Convict and it had come as a total shock that they had really meant what they said. That wasn’t how legal agreements normally worked.
The government’s priority was to preserve the Good Friday agreement, which was totally incompatible with the protocol – she still didn’t know who had been moronic enough to sign the agreement – so it was now her duty to break the law if the EU didn’t oblige. Which she hoped they wouldn’t.
Simon Hoare, the chair of the Northern Ireland select committee, was appalled Truss could be considering breaking the law, but almost every other Tory MP was ecstatic. Bill Cash reckoned we should be starting a land war with Germany – he’ll never be truly happy until the Hun has been taught a lesson. Theresa Villiers thought we should punish the EU for not taking the Queen’s platinum jubilee seriously enough.
Brexit derangement syndrome was in full swing. All those MPs who had longed for some positive Brexit news were on their feet. Steve Baker revealed himself to be a closet Marxist. What was needed was dialectics. The EU was suffering from false consciousness by applying the protocol so we would be doing them a favour by ignoring it. Blessed are the peacemakers. Chris Grayling thought it was the EU who was breaking the law. Bless. Give him a stick and he’ll find the wrong end of it. Peter Bone saved the best for last. Brexit had only been possible because Boris had been prepared to lie. So what was required was yet more lying.
The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson also had selective amnesia. He had never supported the protocol, he said. Though he definitely had. He was left to a private grief. No one reminded him that the DUP had also had their chances and blew it by opposing Theresa May’s Northern Ireland backstop. That would have eliminated a border in the Irish Sea …
By now Truss had completely tuned out. Her work was done. She had looked tough for the Brexity backbenchers while pissing off the Irish and the EU. Ideal for her leadership chances. Every cloud and all that.