Macron has told Johnson to keep his word about Brexit. The very best of luck with that

·3 min read
Emmanuel Macron, left, with Boris Johnson at the G7 (AFP/Getty)
Emmanuel Macron, left, with Boris Johnson at the G7 (AFP/Getty)

At time of writing, it really does appear that some powerful people flying into a pretty beach in Cornwall to have their picture taken with one another has somehow left a number of problems unsolved.

The French president Emmanuel Macron is not stupid, so quite what he expects from having told Boris Johnson to stop lying is not clear. Johnson’s lies are not an unfortunate side effect of the government position. The lie is the position. It is only the lie that makes the unsolvable problem solved. There is no alternative but to ignore reality, pose for the G7 photo, and hope, for enough people, it somehow goes away.

Despite the close proximity of various presidents and prime ministers, a solution to the Northern Ireland problem has not been found. Apologies, that is the wrong term. There is no Northern Ireland problem. That was solved 23 years ago by actual, proper politicians, and made far easier to solve by the existence of the European Union on both sides of the border.

There is a new problem now, the Brexit problem, which actually has precious little to do with Northern Ireland, it just exists there. This problem was created by geriatric undergraduates and overgrown manbabies, and what with manbabies being rather better at creating mess than clearing it up, no solution is as yet forthcoming.

Of course, no one likes to have to type out this stuff yet again, just as much as no one likes to read it, but five years after the referendum, and two years after Iain Duncan Smith’s search for “alternative arrangements” was brought to a premature end, there still isn’t a way of having a completely open border between two countries with different customs regimes.

Again, sorry, you have to have a border either on the border, or in the sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which the UK now has, even though its prime minister continues to pretend that it doesn’t. (Its previous prime minister, Theresa May, said that no prime minister could ever possibly accept such a solution. She was right, at the time, but then the next one did and pretended that he hadn’t.)

Anyway, yawn, from next month, as things stand, it is likely to become very difficult if not impossible for chilled meats, like sausages, to be sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, meaning supermarkets in Belfast will be without very large amounts of very popular products. This, of course, is completely mad. But it is, alas, exactly what 17 million British people voted for.

In Carbis Bay, Boris Johnson has been begging the European Union to “be pragmatic”. Ah, pragmatism. Such a wondrous thing. It is pragmatism that, before the manbaby revolution, persuaded the Conservative Party to be in favour of remaining in the European Union. But it’s too late for all that now, so it is up to other people, naturally, to find pragmatic solutions to the problems they didn’t create.

Macron has patiently told Johnson that he just has to “honour his word” on Brexit and Anglo-French relations can be drastically improved. Of course, one wonders whether Macron would even make it onto a Top 100 list of people who’ve asked Johnson to keep his word and been disappointed.

The current UK government policy is simply to ignore the Northern Ireland protocol part of the withdrawal agreement it signed. You know, the one that Johnson described as “oven-ready”, fought a general election over, and drove various diggers through various fake walls with “Get Brexit Done” written on, in order to bring into law.

The scale of the absurdity is hard to fully comprehend. Various Brexit columnists already describe the Northern Ireland protocol as some kind of treachery foisted on the UK by the EU, barely 18 months after writing about how MPs should get behind it.

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