NI Protocol: Does Boris Johnson support the bill?

It was Prince Charles' most boring sentence.

NI Protocol: Does Boris Johnson support the bill?

It was Prince Charles' most boring sentence.

It has nothing to do the private statements of the heir to throne about the government's plans to send Rwandan asylum seekers.

He said this in public about the importance ministers place on the "internaleconomic bonds" that exist between all parts the United Kingdom.

The Prince of Wales was appointed to the Queen's place at the State Opening of Parliament a month ago. After much debate about whether there would ever be a new law regarding Northern Ireland or Brexit on the government's list of planned new laws for that day, it wasn't.

That one sentence, which is a hint at something but not committing to it, is all that's needed.

Now, one month later, the planned new law, a bill is in effect.

This is all about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It was basically a clause that was attached to the Brexit agreement between the UK and EU, which attempted to find a solution for borders.

Brexit is about borders and different rules on either side.

The land border between the EU, UK, and Northern Ireland remains open as it is crucial for maintaining peace.

Some stuff is now checked before it's moved from England, Scotland, or Wales to Northern Ireland.

This is what people call a border in Ireland's Sea.

This was agreed to by the British government, the EU, and other international agreements. However, the government now feels it isn't working as it should and wants to create a new domestic law that eliminates the parts it doesn’t like.

This bill, which is the template for the new law, will go public on Monday.

It will also prompt a row.

Last month, when I was in Northern Ireland to report on the visit of the prime minister to meet with the political parties, I described the challenges he faced as four-dimensional diplomacy.

Here's the truth: It is still complex, and has likely gotten more complicated.

This bill will not only propose green lanes or red lanes to cross the Irish Sea into Northern Ireland; green lanes are for things that stay in Northern Ireland and red lanes are for things that go on into the Republic.

It will also attempt to diminish the role of European Court of Justice in supervising the Protocol. This has been a long-standing irritation for some, as it is the court of an international jurisdiction with the potential of having an impact on the UK.

It will no longer be the "sole arbiter" in the bill.

But, remember that the government signed up for all of this.

Ministers claim that they were in a tight spot when they made this decision, trying to reach a Brexit agreement. There are very few other options.

They claim that the EU has not acted with sufficient flexibility.

Next, the Democratic Unionist Party. They refuse to enter devolved government in Northern Ireland until the Protocol is resolved, as they see it.

They sound quite bullish. Although they don't think the bill will change much by mere publication, they are likely acknowledging that the government has done some hard work to get here.

There is also the EU.

Maros Sefcovic, European Commission's Foreign Secretary, will be addressing Liz Truss on Monday morning.

This Protocol was signed by the UK, as has been repeatedly pointed out by the EU.

Washington is another moving piece: Washington is where politics in Northern Ireland are big news.

So the Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns flew to America for the second time within a few weeks. He was carrying a document - NI Protocol : The UK's Solutions - under his arm.

He will be present until Thursday to meet with political leaders in Congress, Senate and State Department.

The importance of Protocol has been repeatedly emphasized by President Biden, so it is clear that the government needs to be persuaded.

Now, here's an additional twist: The internal dynamics of Conservative Party.

Some government officials were briefed a few weeks back that their main goal was to sort out the so-called Irish Sea Border, with the green lanes/red lanes idea.

To use the lingo, it was less important to govern the deal.

It is now being discussed more frequently.

Some Conservatives believe that this is because of the vulnerability of the Prime Minister.

Some believe that some of the most passionate Brexiteers sitting on the Tory benches are using Boris Johnson's weakness in order to demand an EU approach likely to lead to a bust up.

It is, as one person said to me, the "application of an English nationalist’s idea of Brexit in a strategy for holding together the Union" of the UK.

They added that it was lawbreaking and would annoy the middle ground voters, and the DUP position likely won't change anyway.

Some Conservatives have circulated a blunt internal note: "Breaking international law to uphold the prime minister's treaty is detrimental to everything the UK stands for... No amount of shopping around to rent-a-quote attorneys can conceal that."

This raises the question whether the prime minister is able to keep enough MPs on his side to pass this bill, especially in the short-term if it does not lead to full devolution of Northern Ireland.

What happens next?

Some government officials are hopeful of getting devolution back in Northern Ireland within six weeks. However, the DUP is not willing to change its outlook and the progress of the new law could slow down.

The DUP does not appear to be in hurry and would rather see action than words, even though those words were written in a bill.

This row has a lot more to offer.

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