On the Protocol we need to put lesser problems into the background for ultimate solution at a later date…

The world is in the most dangerous state it has been in since the Second World War. Many lives and livelihoods of ordinary people have been lost in the Ukraine due to naked aggression and democracies and democratic values are under severe threat all over the world. In times like these the rallying cry for all those across the world who treasure hard won democratic rights and values has to be the time honoured one of “All HANDS ON DECK”.

This has meant from the old seafaring tradition over hundreds of years that everybody needs to come together and do everything possible to deal with an emergency. At the same time all other issues become secondary to the overriding and all important task ahead.

Today this means that all Democracies need to come together to deal with the dangerous world situation now facing them. It means that lesser problems such as those to do with Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol need to be set aside immediately in order to deal with the urgent emergency.

What might be done is this. The ability of democracies to deal with this global threat depends in the first instance on their economic power. Their economic power can be seriously enlarged and protected by seeking much freer trade between democracies and to this end immediate steps should be taken to be negotiate an Atlantic free trade area linking the US , Canada , the U.K. and the EU.

Included in this should be existing trade arrangements between the EU and many other countries such as Japan Australia New Zealand and India. Great care should be taken to ensure that vulnerable groups should be protected from difficulties in enlarging free trade areas but the negotiations should take place as rapidly as possible.

Meantime with the threat of recession looming in the U.K. perhaps the U.K. and the EU could agree to follow EU standards for a period of say 5 years until a wider transatlantic free trade agreement has come about. This adherence to EU standards may not be very much to the liking of those who want the UK to set its own standards but the world is in a crisis situation and “needs must”.

If thus were done quickly by mutual agreement it might enable the U.K. and EU to agree immediately on a very different “light touch “ Northern Ireland protocol and indeed on a “light touch” U.K. Brexit agreement. That in turn might allow the new Stormont Assembly to get up and running and delivering services for many ordinary people.

The essence of all of this is speed. In the Second World War the US was able to build a trans-ocean cargo ship every 36 hours.

In the face of the dangers we now face we need urgency of this nature to tackle the emergency and we need to put lesser problems into the background for ultimate solution at a later date which will become so much easier with a massive transatlantic free trade area in place. “All HANDS TO THE PUMPS”!

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