After three days lost in action, Boris Johnson made a loud reappearance at the Global Soft Power summit in London to finally admit that he has "mixed feelings" about Rishi Sunak's EU deal and that it will be "very difficult" for him to vote in favor of it. . All this after warning that he would have done things "in a different way."
"This is not about taking back control," he stressed to a large audience. "This is about the EU graciously folding in to allow the UK to do what they want in their country... but not by following our laws, but theirs."
Few actually expected Boris Johnson to "gracefully fold" before the Windsor Framework Agreement of Rishi Sunak, his former Treasury secretary, with whom he maintains a bitter rivalry for considering him as the most responsible for the plot that forced his resignation.
Sunak's first great diplomatic success, achieved based on restraint and pragmatism, has also been Johnson's great defeat and all that it represents: tension and direct confrontation with Brussels.
Politically humiliated and personally isolated, defended now only by stalwart allies like Jacob Rees-Mogg or Nadine Norries, the former Conservative leader had been playing hide-and-seek with the media all week. Days before the signing of the agreement, he was still threatening to lead a rebellion of a hundred Tories ready to make life miserable for Sunak.
Given the majority support that Sunak has achieved, even among the most radical eurosceptics, Johnson is now in a position to hide behind the unionists in Belfast and face the entire parliamentary spectrum as the last true Brexiter...
"I will continue to campaign for what I think Brexit is. And this country is nothing without a Brexit government, and Brexit is nothing if this country doesn't do things differently."
As examples of the advantages of not following EU rules, he again recalled the Covid vaccination campaign and insisted on his detachment from the war in Ukraine: "For having the courage to be different, which is what Brexit allowed , now the rest of Europe is arming the Ukrainians."
The former 'premier' acknowledged, however, that "it is clear that people want to move forward, reach an agreement and not have more fights." But he stopped short of specifying how he would have done things a "different way" to get the Ireland Protocol he himself negotiated out of the impasse he found himself in.
"It was all my fault," he acknowledged in a calculatedly ambiguous tone. The decision to create controls in the Northern Irish ports, to avoid a return to the hard border on the island, was made according to him "merely to help the European Union."
Without mentioning Sunak by name, Johnson hinted that the Windsor Framework Agreement is nothing more and nothing less than "a version of the solution that had already been offered" by Liz Truss when she was foreign secretary. The final text - with the limited role of the Court of Justice of the EU and the application of future community laws in Northern Ireland - will serve in her opinion "as a drag anchor that will prevent divergence."
Johnson finally criticized Sunak for renouncing the Protocol Law, promoted in his day to unilaterally "rewrite" the Brexit rules and denounced by the EU as a violation of international law. The former premier assured that the Protocol Law must be restored if the agreement signed with the EU does not work.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project