The National:

EVERYONE makes mistakes, especially politicians and large entities. However, it’s how you react to those mistakes that defines you.

The European Commission’s mistake in starting the process of triggering Article 16 of the Irish protocol last Friday was a big mistake.

Crucially this big mistake, made in the white hot atmosphere surrounding Covid vaccinations and curious actions of a pharmaceutical company, was rectified. It was rectified within five hours, once the Irish Government was dialled in and chaos was averted.

The reaction from the Brexit boosters in Westminster and certain newspapers was as expected and unfortunately merited, to an extent.

To an extent, as many of the same voices were absolutely silent for the past five years as repeated efforts were made to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, silent when the Internal Market Bill was tabled, silent when the British Prime Minister referenced triggering Article 16 a fortnight ago, and silent as both the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster brought it back into play this week.

READ MORE: DUP petition calling for UK Government to invoke article 16 hits 100,000 target

From a European point of view, the lesson should be learned that Article 16 should be treated extremely delicately and never even looked at without consulting either the Irish Government or Michel Barnier.

From a British point of view, how can the solution to one side looking to trigger Article 16 be to threaten to trigger it too?

The Irish protocol is of course far from perfect and is causing some disruption to the flow of goods from Scotland to Northern Ireland specifically. Some of these disruptions can be addressed and there is scope for flexibility when it comes to grace periods, if that flexibility wasn’t there before, it needs to be found after the European Commission’s aforementioned mistake.

The National: There is another crucial meeting between Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič this weekThere is another crucial meeting between Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič this week

But crucially, all of these issues aren’t really caused by the protocol but by Brexit itself. A Brexit that was clearly never planned for and a campaign that ignored how Brexit might impact the delicate balance in Northern Ireland.

The opportunism of certain Unionists in Northern Ireland led by the DUP in recent days has been glaring. The party that pushed Brexit, rejected all alternatives, provided no alternatives of their own, opposed the protocol and now want it scrapped, still have no alternative to replace it with.

READ MORE: Michael Gove causes Twitter storm with post on Scottish independence and Brexit

There is another crucial meeting between Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič this week. This time the meeting is in person. This and the many meetings that will follow are where these issues can be worked through. After 36 days of operation, it is simply too soon to abandon the protocol and create chaos, especially when there is quite simply no alternative.

Brexit was not done on January 31. It will be with us for quite some time, beyond the Irish protocol, negotiations are still ongoing in relation to financial services and the issue of fisheries will be revisited in five years.

The protocol is here to stay, it can be worked upon, indeed it even presents many opportunities but it is not the root of the problems. Ultimately, this is the Brexit that the majority in both Scotland and Northern Ireland did not vote for.