Tony Blair and John Major, former U.K. prime ministers from opposing parties, slammed current premier Boris Johnson over his effort to tear up parts of the divorce agreement his government negotiated to leave the European Union.
Blair, the former Labour Party prime minister, and Major his predecessor who led for the Conservative Party, said Johnson’s effort to undo sections of the agreement dealing with Northern Ireland poses a threat to the peace and the U.K.’s global credibility.
Johnson’s maneuver is “shocking” and “imperils” the Good Friday accord that led to more than two decades of peace in Northern Irelalnd, the two wrote in a joint opinion piece in the Sunday Times.
“It raises questions that go far beyond the impact on Ireland, the peace process and negotiations for a trade deal — crucial though they are. It questions the very integrity of our nation. If the government succeeds in its plans, what constitutional audacity will be beyond it?”
Johnson proposed the bill in the final stages of fraught negotiations on a post-Brexit EU-U.K. trade agreement, threatening to scupper the talks. The EU has given the U.K. three weeks to amend the legislation or face legal action, and Johnson is facing a revolt by members of his own party over the bill, which the government has conceded breaks international law.
“We both opposed Brexit,” Blair and Major wrote. “We both accept it is now happening. But this way of negotiating, with reason cast aside in pursuit of ideology and cavalier bombast posing as serious diplomacy, is irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice.”
On Friday, Johnson tried to defuse the brewing revolt in parliament with a half hour conference call with Conservative Party colleagues. Rebel conservative MPs are unlikely to defeat the government on the bill, according to two Tory MPs. However, they are trying to enlist former Prime Minister Theresa May to front the campaign against his plan, according to an article in Business Insider.