AT times it feels like it’s Groundhog Day in Westminster. Yesterday’s statement in the House of Commons on the Northern Ireland protocol was another of those occasions.

Once again, a UK Government minister claims that the protocol isn’t working. Once again, the UK is threatening to trigger Article 16 as a silver bullet to solve the problem it created (spoiler alert: it won’t). And once again, it was evident that Tory Ministers have as much clue about what is happening in Northern Ireland as they do in Scotland.

It’s beggars belief that the Tories claim that the war in Ukraine is no time to change a prime minister but that now is the time to play with fire in Northern Ireland. At precisely the moment when Europe is united in the face of Putin’s invasion, only Brexiteers could lack the self-awareness to start a fight with our closest friends and allies.

None of this should come as any surprise. Brexit was always a project which would end up making poorer the people of these islands, unhealthier and more insecure. Readers of this paper will be well aware of the close ties that exist between Scotland and the island of Ireland. This is especially so in Northern Ireland where the people there, alongside the people of Scotland, voted to reject Brexit.

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Unlike in Scotland, Northern Ireland was (rightly) given special treatment to preserve peace in Northern Ireland. The protocol is the result of this process and I for one am all for anything which helps preserve peace. The Troubles are not ancient history, they were a heavy weight on the lives of so many of us in these islands. The Good Friday Agreement, which finally brought peace, is not something to be ignored or belittled.

This is something that Johnson’s cabal of ministers seem to have forgotten. Having appointed himself as the deliverer of Brexit, no doubt he believes he can simply command decrees and it shall be done. If a peace agreement and international law gets in the way, what does it matter to him?

How ironic then that he should wax lyrically about liberal values and democracy when his own party so patently ignores it. It’s not even been a month when most of the Members of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland were elected on a platform endorsing the protocol. Even most businesses in Northern Ireland, whilst not particularly happy with the extra paperwork, are reaping the benefits of having access to the single market. Exports from Northern Ireland to the Republic were up 34% this quarter compared to the same time in 2021.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has found that Northern Ireland’s economy “has slightly outperformed the UK average” since “closer links with the EU, through trade and also potentially labour mobility, have benefited Northern Ireland post-Brexit”. It seems as if the DUP, caught up in the mythos of Unionism is trying to square the circle of a hard Brexit with preserving peace in Northern Ireland. It simply cannot be done.

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And so we came to yesterday’s statement. I sat in the chamber as the Foreign Secretary announced her intention to bring forward legislation to unilaterally rip up the protocol unless Brussels compromises on its position. All her grandstanding conveniently forgot that this was a deal her own government signed up to and sold by the Prime Minister as an “oven-ready deal”. The curse of forgetfulness clearly is a symptom of working in Johnson’s Cabinet, since Minister for Brexit Opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg has also claimed that fully implementing the protocol would be an “act of self-harm”.

The protocol has seen Northern Irish businesses benefit from the EU’s single market, much like an independent Scotland will also see rewards from its membership of the European Union. We have a strong interest in what happens in Northern Ireland not just because of geographical proximity but because of shared ties of culture, language and history. As I was once told – only half-jokingly – Belfast and Glasgow are one city separated by a large river.

The SNP remain committed to protecting the precious peace on the island of Ireland. While this can only be done by respecting the letter and principle of the Good Friday Agreement, these Tory Ministers have shown again and again that international law and agreements negotiated in good faith mean nothing to them. Again and again, the Tories choose blind ideology over the peace and prosperity of the people of these islands and choose their party over their country.

We all deserve better.