Why the sudden apoplexy on the Tory right about the Good Friday Agreement?

The collapse of the talks in Northern Ireland “shows the Good Friday Agreement has outlived its usefulness” according to former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, who thinks the agreement needs to be consigned to the garbage bin of history.

Patterson is not alone in thinking this. Another high Tory hardliner, Daniel Hannan, stated that the agreement had been a colossal failure with the two main parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists, like two punch-drunk fighters unable to reach a solution.

Current U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, when asked about the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit, completely changed the subject and began talking about Bosnia. Another hardliner, Environment Minister Michael Gove, said the agreement was a giveaway to the IRA.

Why the sudden apoplexy on the Tory right about the Good Friday Agreement?

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Fintan O'Toole in his Guardian column last week put it brilliantly, “The sleeping beauties on the Tory right, for whom ignorance of Ireland was Brexit bliss, are finally waking up ... a  fog of denial and self-delusion is beginning to clear and they can at last see what should have been obvious all along: you can have a hard Brexit or you can have the Belfast Agreement but you can’t have both.”

There you have it. The Brexiteers wish t0 abrogate the Good Friday Agreement in order to fully implement a hard Brexit which would have to include a physical Irish border which would undoubtedly lead to the resumption of The Troubles.   So that’s it -- and to hell with the infuriating Irish.

But the British right will not succeed this time.

That is because, unlike Brexit which was a simple referendum with no policy options attached other than voting “yes” or “no,” the Good Friday Agreement is a major international pact registered with the UN.

Not only that, the agreement was voted on by the entire island of Ireland and passed in both jurisdictions, gaining 71 percent of the vote in the North and over 94 percent in the south.

Next to former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to hold a Brexit referendum to begin with, installing a hard border is the stupidest idea ever thought up by a British politician.

But they won’t get away with it.

As O'Toole notes, “This week, Brussels will publish its draft withdrawal agreement, a legally binding text under which the U.K. will, in effect, commit itself to keeping Northern Ireland in the Single Market and Customs Union, unless a future free trade deal or a magical technological solution manages somehow to avoid a hard border.

It will also bind both parties to recognize in all negotiations the ‘paramount importance,’ as Theresa May wrote in her Article 50 letter, of the Belfast Agreement.”

In other words, Prime Minister May, in her initial negotiations with the EU, agreed there would be no return to a hard border.

This is why the right-wing Tories are huffing and puffing. They see their plan for a hard Brexit with no ties to Europe thwarted by the inconvenient truth of the Belfast Agreement.

It's enough to make a high Tory cry and throw the toys out of the stroller. Ain’t that a shame.

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