BBC’s Chris Mason highlights ‘striking sentence’ exposing Johnson’s new Brexit strategy

Queen’s Speech: Mason on ‘striking delicate language’

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Chris Mason, political editor for the BBC, said there was a “striking sentence” in the Queen’s Speech today that the Government must be “conscious of the internal economic bonds” between countries in the United Kingdom. He claimed that it spoke to the “delicate, four-dimensional diplomacy” needed to ensure the Northern Ireland protocol issue is safely navigated in light of the country’s current inability to form an Executive over the issue.  

Mr Mason said: “There was a particularly striking sentence that the Government would ‘be minded to be conscious of the internal economic bonds between the constituents part of the United Kingdom’. 

“There’s been a conversation in Government about the extent to which they should make a conscious and significant contribution in this Queen’s Speech to doing something around the question of the Northern Ireland Protocol so soon after those elections. 

“Especially with a delicate, four-dimensional diplomacy to pull off in the context of the European Union, ensuring some sort of arrangement with the European Union. 

“Instead, there’s some really careful language nodding to the sensitivities without an absolute commitment to delivering new legislation, with the prospect that could happen should the Government conclude that’s worthwhile.

“It buys the Government some time and they have time in the new rulebook as far as the formation of a devolved Government in Northern Ireland is concerned. 

“There is a six-month window for that to happen. I think what we’ve seen there in the last few days is that the status quo can be very sticky even when you’ve had a sizable change.” 

Earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated that the situation surrounding the Northern Ireland protocol had become “very serious”. 

Mr Johnson spoke with Irish premier Micheal Martin about the post-Brexit arrangements prior to the State Opening of Parliament. 

In a Downing Street account of the call, the two leaders agreed on the vital importance of restoring the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

Following the victory of Sinn Fein in the local elections, which won 27 councils, the Democratic Unionist Party has refused to enter Stormont. 

The Taoiseach urged Mr Johnson to intensify EU and UK discussions, and “avoid any unilateral action”.

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Meanwhile, Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill stressed an Executive must be formed now, adding: “The public here can’t be a pawn in the British Government’s game of chicken with the EU.”

Summarising the meeting this morning, A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Despite repeated efforts by the UK Government over many months to fix the protocol, including those sections related to the movement of goods and governance, the European Commission had not taken the steps necessary to help address the economic and political disruption on the ground. 

“The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK Government would take action to protect peace and political stability in Northern Ireland if solutions could not be found.”

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