Baroness Hoey has fired a volley of searing comments against Brussels and the pro-EU establishment as the UK tries to negotiate a softening of the hated Northern Ireland Protocol, which Brussels will is against.
Speaking on a Telegraph podcast, the cross-bench peer said the prime minister faced a “dilemma” when negotiating the withdrawal agreement with Brussels in 2019, which annexed Northern Ireland’s economy from the UK.
Nobody “realised just how dreadfully the EU would behave, but I think that most people felt that once we were out [of the Protocol] we would be able to change it,” said Hoey before highlighting unilateral powers under Article 16 of the mechanism enable the UK to restore sovereignty and resolve some of the “societal problems” currently faced in the province.
“So I refuse to blame Boris,” continued the former Labour MP, “I actually blame people like Keir Starmer in my own original party the more.
Why? “He encouraged people to delay, to postpone, to call for a second referendum, which is when I finally gave up on the Labour Party, but I forgive Boris if he gets us out again of this Protocol and I think it will happen,” she asserted firmly.
“I know that the conventional wisdom amongst the Irish government and the European Union is the Protocol cannot change, but I am sorry, but the Protocol will change because it’s unsustainable.”
Hoey’s podcast appearance comes a couple of weeks before customs controls on chilled meat imported from Great Britain are due to be imposed, meaning another torrent of additional customs checks to separate Northern Ireland even further from mainland United Kingdom. According to media reports, the EU is considering a three-month delay to avoid the impending “sausages wars” hanging over Brussels, but what then?
In Hoey’s mind, there is a general failure to appreciate two important factors. The first is Boris Johnson’s popularity and power. The second is the strength of feeling towards unionism on the island of Ireland and the lack of excitement for European integration. However, there was no denying that the Protocol, which the British government still wants to reform rather than abandon, is a significant test for the Union.
“People seem to underestimate Boris Johnson still, the public don’t seem to, but people in the Westminster bubble do. And I think he could act quickly on this.”
The cross-bench peer added that Ulster’s marching season was a chance for the “the average person” in Northern Ireland “who is pro-Union knows that this is an attack on their Britishness, and they want things to do. And they are going marching, but of course, it gets next to no publicity amongst the media and so people are feeling very frustrated, very much a feeling that this is a real test of just whether the United Kingdom government genuinely cares.
“Bringing the discussion back onto Brussels, Hoey said that the “European Union needs to understand Northern Ireland better, they have been completely taken in by the propaganda of the Irish government and British government went along with it, unfortunately.”
Asked to comment on former Taoiseach and darling of the globalist liberal establishment Leo Varadkar’s insistence Irish unification was the “mission”, Hoey replied “of course” he would say that, but “I think he’s completely wrong… very very few people extra are wanting a united Ireland,” say the opinion polls, pointed out the Baroness.
“Economically” it is “much much better off for us to be part of the union,” she stated, highlighting vaccinations as an example of the benefits of independence.
Hoey pointed to Covid jabs as just one example of why she already felt “a sense of freedom” outside the bloc.
“I do actually genuinely feel different about this. I feel that, you know, every day there’s something that you think, goodness, we can do that now and we need to be able to grab on to that.
“We just have to look, the one thing now I think has united the country is the way we handled our vaccinations. And that would not have happened if we’d been in the EU.”
Turning to Dublin’s scheming relationship with Brussels that acted as the foundation for the Protocol, Hoey said she believed Eurocrats are in for a shock.
“There’s a big debate starting there. And I think that is the logical thing to happen, that the Republic of Ireland leaves the European Union, now they’re a contributor,” said Hoey, referring to the Republic’s traditional status as a recipient of EU funds to help fuel its rapid economic development in recent decades, which has ended.
Not attempting to disguise her contempt for the European project, Hoey added that she does not like it when ministers refer to EU leaders as our “our friends”.
Neither do we.