Johnson and Cummings playing with fire over the Backstop

Johnson and puppet master Dominic Cummings

By Russell Bruce

A few weeks ago Statista produced an article and diagram of terrorism trends in EU countries. The UK came out as the country with 43% of all terrorism attacks in the EU. The information was mind blowing as the UK had 60 incidents, double that of France.

Graphic from Europol: Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019

But the story does not end there because the graphic I produced from these statistics, although accurate was very misleading. Beginning then to write up the article I did what I was trained to do and went back to the original source, always a wise precaution. This revealed that of the 60 UK terrorism incidents 56 related to dissident republican terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Always check sources fully to ensure accuracy

The Europol report is produced from statistics from each member state so data, including the details relating to Northern Ireland, were given to Europol by the UK government and classed as Ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism. The other 4 terrorist attacks in mainland UK were classed as Jihadist terrorism. I doubt PM Johnson or his controller Dominic Cummings are aware or would even care about this detail.

Johnson risks return of the Troubles in picking a fight over the Backstop

The Good Friday Agreement has brought peace to Northern Ireland and cross-border cooperation has led to the setting up of cross-border agencies on the island of Ireland to the benefit of both communities. As the statistical detail shows the Troubles continue to ripple and Johnson’s attack on the Backstop has ensured any real discussions, never mind negotiations on the deal he says he wants, are consigned to never-never land with the real purpose to facilitate crash out at one second after midnight on 31st October.

This level of irresponsibility belies the million to one odds Johnson attributes against crashing out without a deal. Not only is it clear Johnson and former Leave director Dominic Cummings do not want a deal but are determined the UK will leave without a deal, ‘Come what may’. Come what may being the operative strategy indicating the real intention. Leave UK promised lots of things during a content vacuous campaign, none of which were ever intended. Leave was the objective and Leave is the only game on the card table in 10 Downing Street.

We need an opinion poll on Johnson’s Backstop stance

Opinion in Northern Ireland where they voted 55% to Remain seems pretty clear, they want the border to remain open and that is far more important to them than the possibility of an Ireland UK border in the Irish Sea. The politics of the four UK nations all reflect significant differences but none is more of an outlier that the politics of Northern Ireland.

As to whether Johnson has the backing of the electorate in other parts of these islands is an open question. Recent polling indications and views expressed on social media towards Scotland come in two parts. There are those who understand Scotland’s wish for another referendum on independence and wish us well. The other view is good riddance. Such is the real state of the glue that binds the union.

Concern for Northern Ireland remaining in the union is very likely even lower so does Johnson really have the backing of the electorate at large on his dangerous strategy over the Backstop? It is something that needs tested with a detailed opinion poll. As we say in Scotland, Johnson is determined to caw the feet from any chance of ensuring the UK has some kind of future relationship with the EU.

If the people of these islands do not support Johnson’s strategy over the Backstop he is mince. I suspect many are just trundling along with it because they want to see an end to Brexit or assume it must be important. Constitutional detail, beyond a broad feeling of wanting to live in a democratic society, does not stir people in the same way as ‘bringing back control’ did. Control is the one thing that isn’t coming your way. Johnson, Cummings and the ERG are in control and none of it is looking good at citizen level and creates very real risks for both parts of Ireland.