‘Putinesque’ Johnson using Northern Ireland to start fight with EU says former Welsh Secretary
A former Welsh Secretary has accused Boris Johnson of threatening peace in Northern Ireland to try and prompt a confrontation with the EU.
Peter Hain, who was the MP for Neath and now hits in the House of Lords, said that the Prime Minister had adopted a “Putinesque strategy” to “wreck” the deal in Northern Ireland.
As Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain was responsible for negotiating the settlement which brought former enemies Sinn Féin and the DUP into a power-sharing Northern Irish government from May 2007.
But in a column in The Guardian, he said that Boris Johnson was now “dog-whistling” to his base by “triggering a humongous row with the old villain Brussels because that worked so well in the 2016 Brexit referendum”.
The aim, Peter Hain said, was to “keep that going – if at all possible – all the way to the next general election”.
“Having myself negotiated as a government minister with the EU, all the parties in Northern Ireland and in the UN security council – winning good deals for Britain – I know that building trust is key to getting concessions from the other side,” he said.
“But Johnson et al have destroyed trust in Brussels, Belfast, Dublin and Washington DC.
“Why should Brussels make the concessions necessary when it suspects Johnson will simply pocket these and up the ante yet again?”
Peter Hain also questioned whether Boris Johnson really wanted a deal that worked with the EU at all.
“Or does he prefer the parallel universe blame game that resonates with his supporters but won’t solve the problem, because to do so would irrevocably mean compromises like the ones he and Frost made in signing the protocol in the first place?” he asked.
“What pains me most is that the current batch of Tory leaders don’t really give a fig for Northern Ireland, don’t even understand it, and don’t know how to play the “honest broker” role John Major extolled and Tony Blair exemplified.
“I genuinely felt that the 2007 devolution settlement I helped negotiate under Blair had ended the horror and cemented hope. We felt that by bringing the old blood enemies, the DUP and Sinn Féin, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, to share government together, the Good Friday agreement would be locked in, over time deepening peace, stability and inclusive democracy.
“Sadly, while the vandals now in charge of Britain run amok, I’m not so sure any more.”
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