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Observations of an Expat: Rogue Britain

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Observations of an Expat Rogue BritainThe UK is one of the chief pillars of the post-war rule of international law which has underwritten the world’s longest period of relative peace and prosperity. Without these legal structures dictators are emboldened to embark without fear of serious reprisal on genocide, murder of political opponents, theft and even war.

Tom Arms

Britain is becoming a rogue state. In fact, it may already be one. The Johnson government’s threat to jettison the EU Withdrawal Bill negotiated last year and an alarming philosophy of “creative destruction” threatens to leave the UK dangerously isolated on the world stage.

This is bad for Britain and bad for the world.

The UK is one of the chief pillars of the post-war rule of international law which has underwritten the world’s longest period of relative peace and prosperity. Without these legal structures dictators are emboldened to embark without fear of serious reprisal on genocide, murder of political opponents, theft and even war.

The specific issue at stake is Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill which will be debated in Parliament on Monday.  Under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Bill which Johnson negotiated a year ago, there would be pretty much an open border between Northern Ireland and Eire, with a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The terms were unpopular and a major British concession a year ago. But they were agreed and became a legally-binding building block on which to construct a UK-EU trade deal. Talks for that deal are now deadlocked over fishing rights, legal jurisdiction and competition rules; and Boris fans say that the only way to overcome the impasse is by threatening to break the previous agreement.

The government is fully aware of that such a move is a breach of international law. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted as much. It was confirmed by the protest resignation of Sir Jonathan Jones, the government’s top legal adviser. But they don’t care. Boris Johnson is fixated on British withdrawal from the European Union on his terms. This blinkered policy put him in 10 Downing Street and he is quite happy to sacrifice the rule of law to protect his political legacy and emerging brand of radical conservativism.

It is obvious that the British Prime Minister has failed to fully assess the consequences of his law-breaking decision. For a start The Internal Market Bill undermines the Good Friday Agreement which ended “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland.  It also threatens the much-touted US-UK free trade deal which is meant to replace much of Britain’s lost trade with Europe as a pro-Irish Congress has served notice that it will block any deal that threatens the Good Friday Agreement.

Then there is future relationship with Brussels. Regardless of the outcome of the current of trade talks, it is essential that Britain have good relations with its closest neighbours on a wide range of issues. Breaking its word—or even threatening to do so—at the first opportunity, has already created an air of suspicion that will linger for years.

And what about other trade agreements? If Britain cannot be trusted to keep a cornerstone agreement with the world’s largest trading bloc than how can other countries’ trade negotiators place their faith in the word of Albion?

Let’s not forget Hong Kong where the British are leading the charge against China for breaching international agreements over legal, political and human rights in the former British colony. London’s complaints now reek of rank hypocrisy.

Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major said: “If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”

Andreas Bummel, Director of the Berlin-based Democracy Borders, said that jettisoning international agreements by a major country such as Britain “undermines trust in the reliability of international treaties and sets a bad example across the world.”

In May 2018, British Foreign Office Minister of State Harriet Baldwin opened a speech to the UN with the words: “There are few values more important to the UK than upholding international law. It is the very foundation of peace and security.” Boris Johnson sacked Ms. Baldwin in December 2019.

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Tom Arms Journalist Sindh CourierMr. Tom Arms is the London-based American foreign affairs journalist. He has nearly half a century’s experience of world affairs, and has written and broadcast for American, British and Commonwealth outlets. Positions he held included foreign correspondent, diplomatic correspondent, foreign editor, editor and founding CEO of an international diary news service. He is the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War,” “The Falklands Crisis” and “World Elections on File.” His new book “America: Made in Britain” will be published next year.
{The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sindh Courier}

 

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