Boris blasted by Brussels over hated Brexit deal – Might not be there much longer

Northern Ireland: UK should be 'prepared for worst' says Sefcovic

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Despite winning a recent confidence vote, the Prime Minister was wounded by the fact that 148 of his own MPs voted against him. This symbolises the loss of authority Mr Johnson has suffered not just by the confidence vote itself but the partygate debacle that precipitated it.

Writing in The Spectator, James Forsyth argued that the EU has little motivation in continuing to negotiate with Mr Johnson over the protocol given his weakened position.

The journalist said: “The dispute over the protocol, however, will show the consequences of the loss of authority that the Prime Minister has suffered.

“Johnson has never been comfortable with the arrangement.

“He agreed to it to get a Brexit deal over the line but has treated it as unfinished business ever since.

“This strategy has run into predictable problems.

“The EU is reluctant to reopen an agreement it had only just negotiated.

“And there is now an additional consideration for the EU side: why negotiate with Johnson after his no-confidence vote?

“As one EU source said to me: ‘What’s the point of renegotiating with someone who might not be there much longer?” 

While it is true that Brussels would be sad to see Mr Johnson depart, it would not solve the problem of the protocol automatically.

There is also a feeling among members of the Government that the EU may be willing to play the long game over the protocol.

While Brussels sees it as a relatively minor issue it is causing significant division in the UK and consternation among Brexiteers.

In Northern Ireland the DUP are refusing to enter into government at Stormont due to the protocol which is deeply unpopular with unionists. 

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As a result the Northern Ireland Assembly is not currently sitting and the government in the province is not functioning.

In contrast, for the EU the protocol is seen as essential so that its regulations are followed when goods are transported from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland via Northern Ireland.

However, there is also a risk that the Government could make things worse by overriding the protocol.

One problem is that it could harm Britain’s international reputation, a concern raised by International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan. 

Secondly, the EU could retaliate leading to a trade war which could push up inflation even further as well as making the cost of living crisis worse.

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