Let’s be clear. The search for a solution to the Gordian problem of the Northern Ireland Protocol must transcend petty rivalries and the vanity of politicians.
This is about the destiny of Northern Ireland and the integrity of the United Kingdom. So the fine detail of any proposed deal must be studied in a calm and measured fashion.
No one should underestimate the difficulty of Mr Sunak’s task in negotiating a settlement which satisfies Brussels but doesn’t weaken the province’s status within the union.
Indeed, some will think it was unwise and politically dangerous for him to force the issue to a head now, rather than try to kick it down the road until after the next election.
No one should underestimate the difficulty of Rishi Sunak’s task in negotiating a settlement which satisfies Brussels but doesn’t weaken Northern Ireland’s status within the union
But the Mail understands why he is impatient to clean up this mess, which is causing genuine distress and hardship to business and reviving old sectarian tensions.
The Democratic Unionist Party withdrew from Stormont because of it, with the result that there has been no devolved administration in Northern Ireland for more than a year.
Sadly, the negotiations have already been subject to far too much spin. It is deeply regrettable that the King is being dragged into this highly charged process, with reports that the revised protocol might be called the Windsor Agreement to bring him onside.
Equally, we have reservations that his first overseas visit as head of state is to be a ‘schmoozing’ trip to Germany and France, rather than a tour of Commonwealth countries. The monarchy must be above such obvious politicking, especially when feelings run so high.
There are of course several unanswered questions about the new protocol. Will manufacturers in Northern Ireland, whether baking cakes or building ships, adhere to UK or EU regulations?
What about the supply chain of ingredients and components for such goods? Would those items also have to conform to EU regulations before being allowed in from mainland Britain unchecked?
Then there is the thorny issue of the European Court. Will it have the final say in any future dispute over the protocol, or will there be a system of independent arbitration?
It is deeply regrettable that the King is being dragged into this highly charged process
These are not matters that can be easily fudged or brushed away and Mr Sunak must make that clear to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during their meeting today.
The politics of Northern Ireland have always excited powerful and deep-seated passions.
But we would urge all parties to read the proposals carefully and analyse them with head as well as heart.
A rush to judgment based on emotion rather than reason and fact would help no one. And it could cause untold damage to lives and livelihoods.
In December 2020, the deportation of 23 Jamaican criminals was blocked after an outcry from Labour MPs backed by sanctimonious celebrities, including supermodel Naomi Campbell and TV historian David Olusoga, led to a successful legal challenge on human rights grounds.
The Mail can now reveal that six months after being freed, one of those criminals, Ernesto Elliott, stabbed a man to death in a London street and is now serving life with a minimum term of 26 years.
Are those virtue-signalling luvvies proud of themselves? Their ill-judged intervention has contributed to at least one death and probably other crimes.
They have also landed the taxpayer with a £1.3million bill to keep Elliott in prison until his sentence is served.
Next time they – or any other celebrities – are tempted to stand up for violent offenders, perhaps they’ll think twice.