‘Sneaky pandering to loyalists on Brexit opens up a route to madness in Northern Ireland’


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Bumptious, smirking Brexit minister Lord Frost jetted off to Lisbon to trash the Northern Ireland treaty he negotiated nearly two years ago.

Why? Because the ­Government is hostage to hard-line loyalists who threaten violence if the trade deal isn’t scrapped.

This spat with the EU isn’t about sausages.

It’s about deep-seated unionist anxiety that Ulster will eventually become part of a united Ireland.

They fear the Northern Ireland protocol, which keeps the province in the EU single market, with the European Court of Justice overseeing disputes, will ­accelerate that process.

That’s why signs appear on lampposts all over Ulster declaring: “NI Protocol Makes Belfast [Peace] Agreement Null and Void”.

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The implicit threat is a return to violence. It was made explicit to MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee by representatives of the so-called Loyalist Communities Council, which speaks for banned ­paramilitary groups.

I’ve seen what these men are capable of. The ­Government’s tacit pandering to them is as dangerous as it is deceitful.

Brussels has made ­wide-ranging concession to the UK, with fewer checks on food, medicine and other goods crossing the Irish Sea.

A compromise is possible, and never underestimate Boris Johnson’s readiness to rat on his friends, in this case Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, creepy new leader of the faltering DUP. But I suspect he doesn’t want a deal. He’d prefer a bust-up with Europe, allowing him to pose as the Churchillian saviour of a nation under siege from Johnny foreigner.

That way lies madness – a trade war harming businesses, jobs and ­international relations. Does he care?

One former Cabinet minister says: “Boris doesn’t give a stuff about Northern Ireland.” We will all be the losers if our former European partners reciprocate that sentiment.

Prescription for disaster

After a decade of Tory misrule, life expectancy is falling in northern England.

Men in parts of Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool won’t see their 70th birthday, while Kensington and Chelsea toffs live up to 27 years longer.

Naturally, the Government chooses this time to propose prescription charges for 60 to 65-year-olds in England, exacerbating the adverse trend.

This is Conservatives “levelling up” in action – making life worse for everybody, especially the disadvantaged in northern cities.

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Health Department officials coyly admit that forcing millions to pay will lead to “a small negative impact on health inequalities” because four out of 10 prescriptions costing £9.35 each will not be collected. And it “will affect some lower income groups more severely”.

The Tories regard this as a price worth paying – by the sick and the poor – to rake in £300million by 2026.

There is still time to halt this nasty trick. Write to your MP – especially the Tories – and demand another Government U-turn.

Boldy staying at home

Despite finally going where quite a few men (and women) have gone before, when the wind was initially too strong for his rocket to take off, fearless astronaut William Shatner boldly stayed at home.

Don’t know about you, but this episode suggests to me that a lot of Star Trek isn’t real.

It’s mocked up in a studio, just like the moon landings, as many Americans still believe.

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