Peace in Northern Ireland is in danger – Johnson’s lies and inaction offer no help | Jonathan Powell

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The region has been used as a pawn since the Brexit vote. All sides must now start talking to avoid an escalation of violence and division

The Northern Ireland conundrum over Brexit was always insoluble. As John Major and Tony Blair pointed out in the referendum campaign, if the UK left the single market and customs union there had to be a border somewhere, either on the island of Ireland or in the Irish Sea. In either case, someone’s rights were going to be hurt: nationalists or unionists.

In December 2019, Boris Johnson opted to put the border in the Irish Sea to get his Brexit deal over the line. He then chose to lie about it, live on TV, saying there would be no border and that no one would have to fill in any forms. At first, the unionist response was muted. Arlene Foster even said NI had the best of both worlds.

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