Opinion

Brexit and the defence of ignorance


Published : 30 Jul 2021 08:37 PM | Updated : 31 Jul 2021 12:48 AM

If you sit in any courtroom pretty much anywhere around the world where minor offenders are held to account for their misdemeanours, pretty quickly you will inevitably hear the defence offered that the perp “didn’t know what they were doing”.

Any magistrate worth his salt and who has heard the excuse time and time and time again, will rightly remonstrate that ignorance is not a defence, and hold the blackguard to account for his irresponsible and illegal actions.

If only the principles of common justice could prevail when it comes Brexit. And right now, eight months into this thing, we are now at the stage where the government of the United Kingdom is offering up that tired and jaded defence: It didn’t know what it was doing when it came to signing the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union. And yes, quite frankly, it is not convincing. And yes, quite frankly, it is not convincing.

And yes, quite frankly, it is not convincing.

For months now, the UK has been complaining that the Northern Ireland Protocol is unworkable. The British-government province across the Irish Sea is suffering from shortages of some food stuffs, meat and dairy products being moved from the island of Great Britain are facing checks to make sure they meet EU standards, and there is growing political unease. But that boat has long sailed.

Not for the first time in the era of Boris Johnson, the UK may seem to undermine its long-standing reputation for upholding the rule of law and its backing of international treaties. Now, by trying to rip up the Withdrawal Agreement, it is denigrating its international reputation. And that is no glory.

Any defendant who goes to court, is contrite and apologetic, hold his hand up and says “I made a mistake, I was wrong” will inevitably end up with a far lighter sentence.

The court of public opinion, however, can have more severe consequences, and the jury may still be considering charges of political duplicity.


Mick O’Reilly is Foreign Correspondent at Gulf News. 

Source: Gulf News