The GuardianThe Guardian

Reality check: the Northern Ireland protocol isn't the problem, Brexit is

By Rafael Behr

17 May 2022 · 4 min read

The Conservative party was happy with Brexit, but not for long. A deal that was great in 2019 is now not great. What could fix it? What change would bring enduring satisfaction? The answer is obvious to anyone familiar with the patterns of English Euroscepticism – nothing. There is no concession big enough, no deal good enough, just as no single fix can end the cravings of a drug addict. The long-term solution is to get sober.

That is not on Liz Truss’s agenda. On Tuesday, the foreign secretary informed parliament of a government plan to assert its own version of the Northern Ireland protocol. That is a threat designed to prod the EU into renegotiating the 2019 withdrawal agreement, which was itself the outcome of a renegotiation made necessary because Theresa May had done a deal that Conservative MPs also didn’t like.

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