Boris Johnson's aping of Donald Trump will live on in ignominy – Brian Wilson

The ‘Brandon Lewis Protocol’ – which suggests it’s acceptable to break international law in a ‘limited way’ – has shocked decent Tories, writes Brian Wilson

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 12:30 pm
Can Boris Johnson rely on the idea that only a minority of people care whether the UK abides by its international treaties? (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Almost nobody understands the practical implications of Boris Johnson reneging on the European Withdrawal Treaty or motives behind it.

However, everyone understands the declaration by Brandon Lewis, the spiv-like Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, that the legislation will break international law “in a specific and limited way”.

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That is certainly understood by decent Tories who hold to the belief that treaties should be taken seriously. As Michael Howard – scarcely an icon of liberal thought – wondered: “How can we reproach Russia or China or Iran… when we are showing such scant regard for our treaty obligations?” Short answer: We can’t.

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Is anyone surprised? If such considerations are understood by Johnson and his acolytes it is only in order to hold them in disdain. The principled departure of senior civil servants is seen as proof of their own cleverness since they, like the law itself, are beneath them.

It should never be forgotten – but probably will be – that Johnson was wished upon us by opposition parties, too stupid (Labour), cynical (SNP) or delusional (Lib Dems) to accept the Theresa May deal, including Northern Ireland backstop, and recognise that Brexit would not be wished away. We now live with the consequences, including the deranged proposition that a no-deal Brexit may be pressed ahead with in the midst of a pandemic and with half of British business struggling to survive.

Whatever the immediate outcome, the Brandon Lewis Doctrine will live on in ignominy. Treaties are made to be ignored, so long as it is in “a specific and limited way”. Johnson will continue to operate on the same assumption Trump relies on – that only a minority actually care.

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