The so-called ‘Bill to Kill the Protocol’ faces a rocky road ahead if it is to survive the rigours of the Westminster establishment and make it onto the statute books - especially in the House of Lords.
Boris is currently juggling a number of clubs, any one of which has the power to deliver a thumping political migraine as the PM struggles to assert his authority after his recent ‘squeaky bum’ victory in the Conservative vote of confidence.
How does he get the almost 150 rebel Tory MPs who voted against him to row in behind his leadership?
How does he persuade the DUP to nominate for Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and kickstart devolved government again?
How does he persuade the Tory Right-wing - especially those in the European Research Group (ERG) - to help him get through two very awkward Westminster by-elections?
How does he restore confidence in the equally powerful Tory backbench 1922 Committee so that they publicly express the view that BoJo is the best PM to lead the party into the next General Election?
Can he win a so-called ‘trade war’ with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol?
How can he get Dublin off his back as the establishment parties in Southern Ireland (Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) struggle to stop the Sinn Fein bandwagon?
And then there’s Russian boss Putin still on the loose in Ukraine … it seems wherever he turns, Boris will face a crisis. What is becoming increasingly clear, is that if he can get the ‘Protocol Problem’ solved, the other pieces of the political jigsaw will fall into place. But how?
As the war of words between the pro and anti-Protocol factions in Ireland, the UK and the EU starts to hot up and threats of an unofficial trade war are banged out across political jungle drums, in thinking of Boris’ options, I was reminded of a title of an academic paper I presented 20 years ago: October 2002: “Are you a shark or a piranha? The ethics of modern political journalism in Northern Ireland.” Political Studies Association of Ireland annual conference, Belfast.
In his dealings with the EU, Boris can either behave as a shark or a piranha when it comes to addressing the Protocol. As a shark, as in the film Jaws, he can politically bite huge chunks out of the legislation rendering the Protocol economically unworkable. Essentially, Boris condemns the Protocol to the dustbin of history
Or, he could behave like a piranha - ferociously gnawing away bit by bit at sections of the Protocol until it becomes nothing more than a meaningless piece of political toilet paper.
In fundamentally deciding as to whether he should be shark or piranha, Boris must fully understand what is the real three-fold purpose of the Protocol. Firstly, it is to punish the UK for daring to vote to leave the EU; secondly, to act as a warning shot for other EU member states - such as Poland and Hungary which have strong eurosceptic lobbies - don’t hold referenda on EU membership otherwise you will face the same fate, and thirdly, it is to save the Republic of Ireland from yet another Celtic Tiger economic collapse.
The Irish political establishment in Dublin need the Protocol to stop their 26 counties from being geographically isolated from the remainder of Europe. When the Celtic Tiger last collapsed, it was millions of British bailout pounds - when the UK was still an EU member - which saved the Republic’s failing economy. That cash cushion no longer exists.
Indeed, the Leinster House establishment parties - Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - badly need the Protocol to promote Irish Unity via the backdoor before Sinn Fein takes power on both sides of the Irish border in Stormont and the Dail.
As a shark or piranha, Boris must call the EU’s bluff and press ahead with his Protocol Bill. The EU - in spite of all its bluster - does not want a trade war with the UK with Putin still on the loose in Ukraine as the EU will only meet its political Waterloo if it tries to fight on two fronts.
As for the Westminster establishment, it must make up its mind morally as to what is more important for the people of the UK - keeping an unworkable Protocol, or preserving the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Or put more bluntly, to cave in to EU sabre-rattling over the Protocol means reigniting the Troubles in Ireland. That has terrorist consequences which were felt not just in Ireland, north and south, but in mainland Britain and mainland Europe.
Much has already been said in terms of condemnation of the horrific social media video mocking the death of Catholic bride Michaela McAreavey on her honeymoon.
While there has been widespread condemnation of the vile video, the key question must be asked - if a mindset in loyalism exists which can compose such atrocious lyrics, could a similar mindset exist which would target both the Irish Republic and Irish locations in Britain if the Protocol led to Irish unification?
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Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online.