As this article has reported our Foreign Secretary was invited to speak at an event organised by the USA called the Aspen Forum and at the end of his speech he managed to blame the EU for the current problems with the Good Friday Agreement. Now clearly many people in America have long historic links to Ireland and indeed America played a very significant role to helping formulate the Good Friday Agreement. It is of course correct that the reason why there is a Irish Sea Border is because of our departure from the EU when Eire chose to stay but to blame the EU for our departure seems a bit rough. As so many times we have been reminded over the last five years, our departure from the EU came because 17.4m British People voted for us to leave and at that stage no one in Dominic Raab’s party had bothered to work out how the Ireland issues would be resolved if we left. It was actually Boris Johnson in his deal with the EU that set out late in 2019 a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Most of us knew that unless we remained in the same sort of relationship with the EU that Eire had that a border was needed between either Northern Ireland and Eire or if Northern Ireland was to remain border-less with Eire that the border was going to take place across the Sea. Boris resolved the latter of those two cases in his deal in late 2019.
Just to be clear, Dominic Raab has referred to the Good Friday Agreement in the House of Commons twice since the 2016 referendum in his role as Foreign Secretary. The first was on the 3rd February 2020 when he responded to a question from Patricia Gibson from SNP:
It has already been materially resolved. When I was out in Washington, I met many members on the hill from all sides of Congress, including Richie Neal, who chairs the Friends of Ireland caucus. We were able to show that, with the changes we have made to the withdrawal agreement and the protections and safeguards for the Good Friday agreement, we are protecting the situation in Northern Ireland. We have strong support on both sides of the aisle in the US for the approach we have taken and, indeed, for US-UK free trade agreement. I hope that the hon. Lady will now get behind it.
Seven months later on 8th September he made the following response to a question from Lisa Nandy who to be fair did not mention it unlike Patricia:
I obviously respect all the brilliant civil servants who work for us. I used to work as a Foreign Office lawyer myself. I can say to the hon. Lady that I am surprised she would open up this question. As we go through the uncertainty of changing our relationship with the EU, we will make sure that there is maximum certainty for businesses as regards the UK internal market, and of course we will legislate to that effect. Ultimately, we will take every measure necessary to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom and to comply with and live up to the Good Friday agreement, ensuring that it is respected. I am surprised she is not supporting that.
So it is very disturbing that in the last 57 months with two references to the Good Friday agreement in the House of Commons, both of which only related to questions and both of which claimed his team had everything in hand, that he has suddenly told another nation something very different that we know in any case is pure nonsense. Here are a few of the words he stated in the Aspen Forum:
It is the EU that by trying to erect a barrier down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain that is challenging the spirit of Northern Ireland Protocol and the Good Friday agreement.
I hope that our friends on the Hill on all sides of the house, and both houses, are equally robust in picking up when the EU undermines the agreement.
huge tensions across all communities
The most overt political threat to the agreement and ultimately the Good Friday agreement has been the politicised way the EU has gone about things.
We are still wrestling with the Northern Ireland protocol and trying to make it work. We need to make it work in the interest of all communities. All we have ever done is take targeted precautionary measures that are necessary to respect and uphold the integrity of the UK, and in particular the internal market between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.