People across Northern Ireland fear the protocol will damage political stability | Katy Hayward and David Phinnemore

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Boris Johnson should realise that abrasive rhetoric is not the answer – our survey shows people want leadership they can trust

  • Katy Hayward and David Phinnemore are politics professors at Queen’s University Belfast

The list of bizarre things Boris Johnson is proposing to do to an international treaty he negotiated is growing. The target of these notions is the Northern Ireland protocol, which parliament ratified as part of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement more than a year ago.

It was this protocol that the UK government intended to “break”, via the UK internal market bill, albeit “in a very specific and limited way”. Those law-breaking clauses were not set aside until December, purportedly in return for a set of time-limited mitigations for the protocol’s implementation. Johnson’s previous bombastic advice that businesses “bin” any paperwork arising from the new customs and regulatory arrangements across the Irish Sea has similarly been discarded. And now the prime minister is apparently intent on “sandpapering” the already battered protocol, or so he has told a BBC Spotlight programme.

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