Scrapping the NI protocol is just the start. Johnson’s trade wars are Trumpism in action | Simon Jenkins

Scrapping the NI protocol is just the start. Johnson’s trade wars are Trumpism in action | Simon Jenkins

Brexit has left Britain out on a limb. Yet the PM seems hellbent on alienating our trading partners to boost his own position

Britain’s foreign policy is now at the mercy of Boris Johnson’s reckless quest for survival. At home he grasps for votes with Irish border controls, protectionist tariffs and immigrant quotas. Abroad, he tours Europe demanding total victory in someone else’s war while promoting the most intense economic disruption in the continent’s peacetime history. Every visit is treated as a photo opportunity. An absurd “bromance” is even staged with the equally embattled French leader, Emmanuel Macron. Never was machismo so synthetic.

Yesterday’s Commons vote on a bill which would allow him to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol was a classic. It was motivated by a desire to appease the province’s fast-disintegrating Unionist majority. The price is to be a predictable standup row with the EU, but one that Johnson thinks will bolster him with his party’s Brexiter right wing. The government’s suggestions for a “soft” border with Ireland are actually quite sensible. But Downing Street’s three years of anti-EU rhetoric have exhausted any wish in Brussels to be co-operative.

Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist

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