The latest shove by Boris Johnson and the United Kingdom government is the most aggressive in decades. It's also going to be the least effective. 

Putting forward new legislation that undermines their own previously signed Withdrawal Agreement is not a good look. In fact, it looks desperate. It could potentially derail the current EU-UK trade negotiations, but wholesale destruction appears to be Johnson's plan.

The problem is – and always was - that magical thinking underlines the basic Brexit promise because their “whole and entire departure” promise to withdraw from the EU conveniently forgets that Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic, which remains emphatically within the EU. 

Because of that geographical sticking point, Northern Ireland will have to continue following the EU's rules on customs, VAT, state aid, and goods standards. The UK government agreed. They signed up to it.

Border checks on goods traveling to Northern Ireland would be carried out at British ports rather than on the Irish mainland, preventing a hard economic border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and the very obvious danger to the peace process of a hard border's return.

Read more: US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland warns against creating hard border

So it's a measure of the contempt that the UK holds Northern Ireland in, it's an illustration of their sheer indifference, that it's only in recent months that the true extent of their obligations and the growing difference between Britain's future trading relations with the EU and those of Northern Ireland has become clear to them.

Recall that the warning about the British border in Ireland was given repeatedly by the Irish government long before the Brexit vote. It was given by nationalist and republican parties across Ireland. It was ignored.

Beguiled by their jingoistic fever dream the UK government sailed full steam ahead until they discerned the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone, where they have run aground again, and where they will always run aground until this centuries-long standoff is resolved with their final departure.

Pursuing maximum national advantage and paying minimum attention to the effect any of this has on their island neighbors, the British have always been entirely foreseeable and predictable in their treachery.

So it is Groundhog Day in the Brexit negotiations again. It will always be until the British government grasps that they can't get to where they're going from where they started from.

It's also worth pointing out that Northern Ireland could easily avail of the advantages of having membership of two trading blocks, a truly enviable dual economic corridor, except that the more recalcitrant elements within unionism want no variation with their neighbors across the Irish sea. They are prepared to be poorer rather than part ways. That seems like a point that should be emphasized. 

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Another point that should be emphasized is the UK government's contempt for its own signed agreements. If they rip up their intentional treaties with this level of contempt, simply because they contain complications they didn't anticipate and now don't like, in effect, they will make themselves a rogue state, with profound implications for their negotiations and political stances on the actions of other nations.

Whitehall, the core of its governance and civil service, knows this and has its hands over its eyes at the current shower of chancers calling the shots.

But playing with the foundations of Northern Ireland's very fragile peace to win concessions from the EU or to signal their resolve is going too far. That's not a high stakes gamble, that's pyromania.

It's an insult to the life-changing work that was done by the politicians who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement and an insult to the people who died in the Troubles. They cannot become a bargaining chip and it's repulsive to even try.

The Irish government has expressed its sympathies for England's (and it is mostly England's) political predicament many times. But we didn't call for their vote on Brexit, they did, despite all our grave warnings. 

What this foolhardy British escalation shows is that again, when push comes to shove England expects us to roll over and take it. That's not what's going to happen, however. Congress here in the United States has made it clear there will be no US-Uk trade agreement that violates the Good Friday Agreement. 

So in their usual careless way of protecting themselves by putting peace in Ireland on the block, the British have just accelerated the process of Irish unity. Scotland wants out of their increasingly dysfunctional embrace, Ireland must follow after.

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