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The Guardian view on the Northern Ireland protocol: honour the treaty | Editorial

Boris Johnson must understand that his Brexit agreement is a fact of international law, not an arena for political games

An early sign that Brexit would create problems for Northern Ireland was a joint warning by Tony Blair and John Major during the 2016 referendum campaign. Both men were impeccably credentialed as veterans of the Irish peace process, but their words were not heeded. The issue scarcely registered – not with an English audience. In Northern Ireland, the majority was for remain.

The two ex-prime ministers’ view has been vindicated by events. While England has mostly moved on from Brexit, the Northern Ireland protocol leading to border checks at Irish sea ports sustains diplomatic tension at dangerous heights. Those checks are a function of the treaty that Boris Johnson signed, arising from a recognition that the Good Friday agreement would be imperilled if physical checks were imposed at the border between the North and the Republic of Ireland.

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