Pause a moment. Could Johnson just pull it off?

The Protocol is a pawn on a bigger game;  to remove any trace of involvement by the European Court of Justice in ruling on applications for state aid for ailing or new industries . While that would remain the rule for Northern Ireland firms, it leeches into GB firms who invest or have branches in the North. And that breaches a cardinal Leave principle, of no involvement by the Court in GB affairs. There is surely another a Leave issue at work; when they’re about it to fulfil their promise,  endlessly repeated and endlessly disbelieved in the face of evidence to the contrary, that customs and phytosanitary checks should be unobtrusively minimal at NI ports.

Peston  raises the bigger theme..

You may wonder why on earth a Tory government led by Boris Johnson, the heirs to Thatcher for goodness sake, are sacrificing the prospect of a trade deal with the EU because they want the right to subsidise British industry. If the Tories and Thatcher stood for anything, it was rolling back the role of the state in the private sector. Well, all that is stuff for the GCSE history syllabus, and turns out to be irrelevant to today’s politics. Because if the government of Boris Johnson has an ideology, it is that of Dominic Cummings and his Vote Leave crew. And Cummings’s passionate conviction is that Johnson’s government MUST have the discretion to invest without fetter in hi-tech, digital, artificial intelligence and the full gamut of the so-called fourth industrial revolution

From the Assembly the four Remain parties published a joint letter declaring that

the UK and EU “must ensure  the rigorous  implementation” of the NI protocol.The letter states that while the NI Protocol was “imperfect”, it guaranteed in all circumstances that there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is entirely unacceptable to the Northern Ireland parties that the UK Government would seek to abandon these safeguards and mitigations, which we believe would amount to a serious betrayal of an existing international treaty,

Indeed nobody wants a hard border. But nobody wants a “fettered” border at the ports either.

The UK government protest that  the Protocol will be intact and it’s just a question of a nip here and a tuck there. But if there’s  No Deal, there can’t be a legal vacuum at the ports and the border.

Scepticism  reigns.

But is it just possible they could pull it off?

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