It was on June 13 when Boris Johnson’s government presented a bill in the House of Commons that would allow it to unilaterally modify the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit agreement and which establishes customs controls that, however, they cannot suppose a hard border between the two Irelands, to protect the peace agreement that was signed in 1998. After an intense and long debate that lasted for hours, finally the majority of the parliamentarians voted in favor of the project this Monday, to ratio of 295 against 221.

The prime minister already announced in the morning that the law, which will now continue its processing with the following necessary steps, including its passage through the House of Lords, would be approved “quite quickly” and “without endangering the market in any way. unique in the EU.

The UK is trying to “fix something that I think is very important for our country, which is the balance of the Good Friday deal in Belfast”, he defended, noting that the Northern Irish community “feels that things are not really working”.

However, Johnson did not have it all with him, especially after, within his own ranks, former Prime Minister Theresa May led a rebellion against the proposal, arguing that a unilateral change in the Protocol is not justified while the mechanic exists. of dispute, known as article 16, which can be invoked by either party. The project is “illegal” and “will fail,” May said. “As a patriot, I would not want to do anything that would disparage this country in the eyes of the world,” he declared, before addressing the Executive directly: “I have to tell the Government that, in my opinion, this bill is not legal in the international law, will fail to achieve its goals and will diminish the UK’s standing in the eyes of the world, and I cannot support it.”

The measure proposed by Johnson was also charged by former International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell: “This law blatantly breaks an international treaty, destroys our reputation internationally and threatens a trade war at a time when our economy is flat” , he criticized, adding that “the reputation of our party and the reputation of our nation are in danger.”

Instead, it was defended tooth and nail by Foreign Minister Liz Truss, who opened the debate by saying that the bill is “necessary and legal” and that it is designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which ended three decades of violence in the region. Two weeks ago, Johnson pointed out that the document only contains some “trivial” adjustments, that everything is a simple “bureaucratic change”. However, the vice president of the European Commission in charge of relations with the United Kingdom, Maros Sefcovic, considered that unilateral actions “are always detrimental to trust”, if at this point there is still some of it between London and Brussels .

“Ideally, we would fix these problems through negotiation, but the EU has ruled out changing the text of the protocol. Northern Ireland has been without a fully functioning Executive since February due to protocol, at a time of cost of living crisis and many other challenges,” the minister said, referring to problems over the deal causing a blockade of government formation in Stormont, as the DUP unionists refuse to govern with Sinn Féin if the Protocol is not removed. Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, opined that in the last year and a half the impact of the protocol “on the economic, constitutional, social and political life of Northern Ireland” has been “devastating”.

The opposition was openly against the change. For example, Hilary Benn, former Labor chairperson of the Brexit select committee, who said “this is a bill born of desperation rather than principle”, and warned that “it is time” for the UK and EU to Union ‘come back to the table and figure this out’.