Last week, official Dublin accused London of "shifting the playing field" in negotiations to resolve post-Brexit trade issues. This came after Britain's chief negotiator with the EU David Frost demanded to revise the Brexit protocol on Northern Ireland (Ulster).
It is worth pointing out that London's attitude is defiant, if not brazen. Whitehall insists that the protocol be negotiated again, otherwise they threaten to unilaterally stop implementing it. The Times wrote about this the other day, with reference to high-level sources in the British government. The European Union is still making concessions, despite all the complaints by official Dublin.
Last Wednesday, the European Commission unveiled its proposals to amend the aforementioned protocol and thus simplify customs and phytosanitary control in Northern Irish ports in order to avoid shortages of goods and any growth of social tension in Ulster. But those did not to sit well with London. As David Frost stated on October 15, the European Union must concede more on the disputed issue. It is essential for London to limit the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, as it now has the last word in disputes over compliance with single market rules. The British side is seeking the establishment of a bilateral arbitration body to resolve issues to this effect. And Brussels warns that such conditions won't let Ulster remain part of the EU single market.
Just a reminder: in order not to violate the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which stipulates no actual border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Brussels and London agreed to exercise customs control in the Irish Sea separating the island of Ireland and the territory of Britain proper. Note that Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with an EU country, i.e. the Republic of Ireland. Hence the entire fuss.
In keeping with one of the most sensitive and controversial parts of the Brexit agreement, it is Northern Ireland that remains within the single EU market for commodity trade to avoid a fixed boundary with an EU member state, the Republic of Ireland. This implies that customs and border control should embrace certain goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales), despite their being one and the same country. These rules are meant to prevent goods from Britain from entering the single EU market without tariffs, while maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland.
It should be noted that Brexit generally put the British leadership in the cross hairs over London's failure to conceive all the peculiarities when executing an agreement with the European Union. In particular, 10 Downing Street ignored the fact that additional paperwork forced many suppliers to stop transporting goods to Northern Ireland. In 2019, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson only needed to promptly sign an agreement with Brussels or die trying. As a result of his success, the nation has to pay for the haste of two years ago and for Brexit as a whole.
Official Dublin is utterly satisfied with the protocol on Northern Ireland, which London requires to review. This is understandable, as it makes the Republic of Ireland the key beneficiary of the € 5 billion Brexit Fund created within the new EU budget. Those dissatisfied are the unionists who advocate Northern Ireland's close cooperation within the United Kingdom and oppose its affiliation with the Republic of Ireland. The Ulster unionist community says the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday Agreement aimed to protect the rights of both the Unionists and Irish nationalist communities, while weakening Ulster's ties with the rest of the UK.
It should be emphasized here that in parallel with the EU, Britain is having a fierce argument with France, which is much less ready for concessions than Brussels. Thus, British Interior Minister Priti Patel said earlier this fall that if the Fifth Republic fails to curb the immigrant flow to the Blighty through the English Channel, London will cut funding by over € 60 million meant to reinforce the coastal zone and amplify French guard forces. In turn, Paris believes that London does not meet its obligations properly. For instance, London has only satisfied 12 out of the 47 French applications for minor vessel fishing in the British territorial waters. French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the British had no respect for the agreements.
Meanwhile, London claims to have granted 98% of applications by fishermen from the EU. Paris has serious and even belligerent intentions, threatening to cut Britain off from energy sources. This could imply severe consequences, because 47% of electricity imports to the British Isles come through France. So far, Boris Johnson's government has managed to avoid outrages of the kind, although those are entirely possible, as the number of post-Brexit issues remains nearly the same.
Indeed, Brexit has not only struck a painful blow to Britain's relations with the EU but it has dramatically complicated domestic affairs of the United Kingdom itself. Suffice to mention the current food and drug shortages or the ongoing fuel crisis. It is no secret that the country's petroleum shortage is mainly associated with a decrease in the number of lorry drivers, as recognized by both the British authorities and gas station operators. Previously, this job engaged EU citizens from continental Europe, but Brexit deprived them of the right to work in the UK, like it was before. Boris Johnson's government failed to conceive this issue, though not exactly challenging. As a result, the aggrieved party is the entire 68-million-strong population of the United Kingdom.