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Andrew Tickell: Home Rule in this reactionary UK would not answer our problems

WHEN a DUP politician says “with my cold, dead hands,” you don’t expect him to wave a handful of sausages. But he stood there, Cro-Magnon, recreational naturist and East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson under a poster with the caption “Ulster is British.” Sammy doesn’t want to save Ulster from salami, but to deliver the Six Counties from the evils of Northern Ireland Protocol.

While Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal provided for the prospect of a physical infrastructure of border posts, it instead drew an effective regulatory border along the Irish Sea. This allowed Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and exclude the rest of the UK from it. The deal included rules on importing chilled meats – including Sammy’s handful of nods – from Britain to Northern Ireland. These rules were due to come into force in the spring, but the British government has decided to give itself a little more time to meet its obligations without discussing them with its European counterparts.

After unilaterally extending the grace period, Boris Johnson and his ministers have now decided that the “brilliant” deal they struck with the EU27 is now “excessively cumbersome”. Just as the burdensome commitments of fidelity in your wedding vows can be resolved by taking a ‘flexible and pragmatic approach’ to fidelity, Captain Impunity believes the harshness and reprimands of the EU should ease and view the protocol as guidelines rather than rules. After all, what is a little bit of a friend offense?

And now the UK government and its struggling former Democratic Unionist Party allies are staging, seemingly without irony, the storyline of a famous episode of Yes, Minister in real time.

According to Edwin Poots – the new DUP chief after Arlene Foster was ousted in April – the EU is trying to starve the ordinary population of Northern Ireland. “Processed meat is typical of foods that would be sold in Iceland and other stores,” he said. “It is very often the lower paid people who use these pizzas, lasagnas and various basic products. ”

I guess that’s not quite what Gordon Brown had in mind when he talks about the Union as an instrument of social justice. The people’s banger is a deep red, despite its modest meat content, chilled or not.

Not to be outdone, Boris Johnson’s Environment Secretary took to the airwaves to give the nation a touching speech about the condescension and culinary bigotry of our European friends and allies, protesting that he did not ” no idea “why the EU was imposing” idiosyncratic “rules on the mystery. meats crossing market borders. But the member for Camborne and Redruth had his suspicions.

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“I suspect it has to do with some sort of perception that they can’t really trust a country other than an EU country to make sausages,” George Eustice told Nick Ferrari. “I think this is nonsense. I think we have a very good sausage industry in this country, we have the highest food hygiene standards in the world ”, closing this noble address to LBC listeners with the moving finale:“ There is no problem with our sausages or even our chicken nuggets.

Now there is a slogan to put on your tanks. The scandalized meat factories of Lincoln and Cumbria unite.

They say that the laws are like sausages: it is better not to see them being made. This British government succeeded in combining the two unsightly exercises. But the concocted “sausage wars” are very much in keeping with the political absurdity that propelled Boris Johnson to and helps keep Boris Johnson there.

When he was starting out as a European correspondent for the Telegraph, a young Boris Johnson specialized in serving this kind of charcuterie to the indignant gammon of the newspaper, which swallowed up any history of Eurocrat diktats worthy of employment. , published by editors cynical enough to give their readers what they wanted no matter how economical their featured correspondent’s copy was.

EU-mandated banana smoothing, bans on the sale of cocktail shrimp crisps – these kinds of Brussels tales were not only the preserve of our future Prime Minister.

They have been a staple of right-wing Eurosceptic media in Britain for decades, reliably generating screaming headlines stoking imaginary grievances against the bloc, skillfully repackaging deregulation, lower welfare standards and less environmental protections like worker preference, and all the rest like unofficial, foreign namby-pambyism, “elf ‘n safety”.

READ MORE: Brexit caused UK services sector to contract by over £ 110bn

This kind of reactionary simplicity is absolutely at the heart of this government’s emotional tone and emotional appeal. It seems appropriate that the Conservatives are now representing Hartlepool. Legend has it that locals hanged a monkey that ran aground on a wreck off the coast because they believed it was one of Napoleon’s spies.

I’m not sure if this was one of the episodes Jacob Rees-Mogg had in mind when he spoke lyrical lyrics in the Commons last week about how we should all be proud of “our wonderful story”, but by the 18th century, the conflict between the UK and France was at least real.

Now we just have a UK government that intermittently talks as if it wants to, and tabloids poised to sink into feverish dreams of war, gunboats and Dunkirk on the drop of a cocked hat.

I guess this is an emotional distraction from any meaningful self-reflection on Britain’s true place in the world – the fact that Britain is now a solidly intermediate power, in decline, is consoled with nostalgia as ‘it considers the risk of a new internal fragmentation and the consequent loss of international prestige. Great Britain is not.

When he signed the Brexit deal, Johnson said it was an opportunity to “put an end to too many years of argument and division”, “to build a strong new relationship with the EU as friends and sovereign equals “and“ to move forward as one country. ”Good luck.

The figure of the indiscreet Brussels official – and the pantomime resistance to their decrees – is intrinsic to the Tory Eurosceptic worldview. The idea that leaving the European Union would remove such antipathies and suspicions from British politics is powerfully naive – especially when it is so clearly in the political interest of the Conservative Party to allow friction to continue.

It is in this context that we must understand the remarkable attempts to rehabilitate the idea that the ‘house rules’ are some kind of response to Scotland’s problems, by delegating more power to Holyrood, while leaving the government British as a sort of night watch state, responsible for defense and foreign affairs.

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First, this argument comes from a place of political unreality. This British government has no interest in this kind of reform program. On the contrary, this conservative administration has shown all the desire to reduce – rather than expand – the sphere of delegated authority. But more fundamentally still, why would anyone want the UK to retain these responsibilities?

If the sight of Boris Johnson dragging his pocket across the sands of Carbis Bay doesn’t convince you of the benefits of an independent foreign and defense policy, look at it. If the state of health services is important enough that you can delegate them, if education, justice and the environment are issues you would like to see addressed in Edinburgh rather than London, why would you want to questions about who and in what quantity do we sell bombs, against whom do we wage an aggressive war – to be determined by Her Majesty’s Government in London?

“Sticking with Britain for the ships, the bombs and the opportunity to kill and be killed in the country’s future wars” seems to me to be one of the craziest cases for the Union yet conceived . If you are prepared to reduce the role of the British state so far, why insist on leaving these critical issues in the hands of Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and their successors?

Does your political experience really suggest that this is a smart plan?

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera