Johnson, lawless

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The breakdown of the withdrawal pact with the EU should set off all alarms

Everything indicates that the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, not only rejects an agreement for a trade treaty with the European Union (EU) with a view to the future, but also seeks a dramatic break in the negotiations underway to draft it. And thus lead them to an abyss between the island and the mainland to which it has been fruitfully linked for four long decades.

This claim – perceptible by all – has been embodied this week in two steps. Early on, Johnson proclaimed that a no-deal would be “a good result.” And he added that he would present to Parliament an “internal market law” to clarify or correct the Withdrawal Agreement that he himself signed with the EU in October 2019.

In recent days, the seriousness of these intentions was confirmed and expanded, when the text of the law presented to the Commons was known, since it unravels the protocol on Ireland that he signed. His predecessor, Theresa May, assumed the permanence for an unspecified time in the European Customs Union and follow the rules of its internal market. Johnson asked for and succeeded in modifying it out of 27 to agree on something that he always denigrated as less favorable: creating an internal customs office between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which would definitely remain outside the perimeter of the European market and customs.

Now he intends with that national law to break his own commitment (not even that of a predecessor). The draft also confirms the objective of dissociating itself from restrictive European regulations on state aid to companies, which would facilitate unfair competition and Singapore on the other side of the channel.

The alleged justification is puerile: it would be legal, he says, any norm “that supposes the breach” of an international treaty, because British sovereignty is above them. False: a State can denounce any clause of a treaty according to the mechanism provided by its own text, it can establish negotiations with the counterpart to amend it, but not make its sovereignty prevail on a whim, since the signing of a text of this nature implies precisely the self-limitation of the national sovereignty of the contracting parties.

Thus, it is a directly illegal rule. The Minister for Northern Ireland himself has corroborated this, acknowledging that it “violates international law”, although it argues that it violates them only a little: in a “limited and specific” way. That law will entail the flagrant breach of the 2019 pact, which if consummated would put Johnson in a worse situation than the pirates of the past: they enjoyed at least one “letter of marque”, one-sided with a formal appearance, in a world lacking common rules. .

Brussels has reacted by calling for the Joint Committee to resolve disputes, and issuing a three-week ultimatum for the prime minister to rectify. Try to prevent anyone from blaming the Union for the breakup. And he hopes that the British internal opposition – started in the conservative ranks, and with much prestige in the House of Lords – will catch on to the nonsense of his Government. If the ultimatum is not successful, two cards remain: go to the courts that settle the disputes over the Withdrawal Agreement. And not to meet with Johnson again to discuss any future agreement, as he has broken all possible confidence in him by radically destroying the existing agreement.

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