As a soon-to-be-former member of the European Union, the United Kingdom has enjoyed free and open access to Europe's 500 million consumers for nearly half a century, but Britain will lose free access to the European market when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31st.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself and his conservative party members ran on and were reelected on a platform of finally executing the Brexit; a platform of ending free access to Europe.
With that said, Mr Brexit himself is now accusing the European Union of erecting trade barriers. That's why his administration needs the authority to violate international law, Johnson says. He says breaking the Brexit withdrawal agreement is necessary to prevent the European Union from using it to block trade between the UK and Northern Ireland.
Johnson accuses the EU of threatening to use the withdrawal treaty agreed in January to put up trade barriers between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, and even to impose a food blockade, the latest brinkmanship of a four-year saga since Britain voted narrowly to leave the bloc. [...]
He said the bill would stop the EU using part of the Brexit divorce deal relating to Northern Ireland as leverage by threatening to block exports from elsewhere in the UK to the province.
“The intention of this bill is clearly to stop any such use of the stick against this country,” he said. “That’s what it does. It’s a protection, it’s a safety net, it’s an insurance policy and it’s a very sensible measure.”
If the European Union (EU) could use the withdrawal agreement to block trade between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain -- something the EU has not actually threatened to do -- why did Johnson himself sign the agreement earlier this year? It's his agreement.
But I digress. Generously speaking, Johnson may be responding to vague European statements that there's no guarantee Britain's agricultural exports will reach European markets without facing tariffs under a hard, no-deal Brexit, but that's what they wanted, isn't it? That is the Brexit in a nutshell; it's the end of guaranteed free trade. That's the whole idea.
When the rubber of protectionist populism actually meets the road, this is the result. This is what it would have looked like if the Trump regime had unilaterally withdrawn from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Trump regime avoided that fate by simply passing a new deal that is virtually identical to NAFTA and then branding it as their own deal. The British government hasn't and isn't doing that. Johnson and his supporters are still drunk on the same vein of promises that Trump made, but it's as if no one has told Johnson it will never actually work.
Johnson's legislation for breaking the Brexit withdrawal agreement -- possibly creating a hard border in Ireland in the process -- could pass through British parliament early next week.
The Biden administration shouldn't even bother talking to Johnson about trade if the latter is still in office a year from now. I don't think he will be.