The government has finally unveiled its plans to “overhaul” the Northern Ireland Protocol (ie unilaterally trash the very agreement whose supposed brilliance was the basis of their successful 2019 election campaign), and it may indeed already have had the desired effect. No, silly, not the effect of resolving the tension over the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic or the potential barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
The desired effect is of course to provoke a nice new row between the government and the EU, in order to milk the last few stale dregs of xenophobic fervour from the desiccated husk of the Conservative “base”. The thinking being that even though everyone up to and including staunch royalists now despise Boris Johnson and his collapsing administration, if they can just be reminded that they despise foreigners MORE, then all will be well.
While waiting for the masterplan, our imagination has been allowed to run riot, not least because the person largely responsible for writing it is the alleged foreign secretary and renowned pork markets enthusiast, Liz Truss – perhaps the perfect person to address what is, after all, an insoluble paradox.
You simply CAN’T have frictionless trade and movement between a member state of the Single Market and a non-member state; there has to be a border, whether it’s the old one across the top of Ireland or a nominal one in the Irish Sea.
However, the government has long insisted that neither of these is acceptable and so, Liz Truss, you’re up. We need someone with the unfathomable thought processes of a Liz Truss to resolve the unresolvable.
So, given that by the time you read this, Ms Truss will have indeed done the impossible (or, at least, been credited by the Tory press as having done so) here are…
Some More Impossible Problems For Liz Truss To Solve!
THE SQUARE ROOT OF MINUS ONE
If Liz Truss can solve the conundrum of Northern Ireland being both simultaneously inside and outside the Single Market and separated and not separated from Great Britain, then coming up with a numerical value for minus one (heretofore a non-existent theoretical number expressed as the letter i) should be child’s play.
Best guess is that Ms Truss would instantly dismiss all this talk of “minus” as mealy-mouthed Remoanerism and “running Britain down” and that as such, what the British people REALLY want to know is what is the square root of PLUS one, before announcing the establishment of a royal commission to carry out an in-depth inquiry to discover what the square root of one is (spoiler alert; it’s one, but don’t tell them… the busier they are, the better).
“THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE”
The inherent contradiction of a statement that declares its own erroneousness has probably destroyed more evil super-computers than anything else in the history of science fiction. If it’s a true statement, then it’s false, but if it’s a false statement, it must be true, and therefore false… does not compute, does not compute, spark spark fizzle bang etc.
This one should be relatively easy for the foreign secretary to solve; just kick it upstairs to No 10 and get the prime minister to say it. Boris Johnson exists, as we all know, somewhere entirely outwith the bounds of truth and falsehood. It’s not so much that he lies all the time as that the very laws of truth have long since ceased to apply to him, so for him to come out with a statement that is simultaneously both true and false and yet somehow also neither of these things is pretty much par for the course these days.
As coined by the novelist Joseph Heller, this denotes the predicament faced by his hero Yossarian and his fellow second world war airmen; the only way to be taken off active duty is to be declared insane, but to request to be taken off active duty is proof of sanity.
Now this one wouldn’t fall within Ms Truss’s own Foreign Office remit, but if she were to pass it on to Work and Pensions one imagines they’d solve it pretty quickly. Given that people in the final stages of terminal illness (or indeed, in a few cases, people who have already died) have been declared fit for work in this country over the past few years, the trifling matter of whether or not a person were sane would barely register as a concern. So; no more exemptions for insanity, and as such, no more paradox. Sorted!
POEM OF THE WEEK
If to racists you must pander
Because they’re your only base
Send the desperate to Rwanda
Put a smile upon their face.
’Cos it’s remote and had a civil war
Not so long ago
It’s just the sort of place
These foreign spongers ought to go.
So pack ’em off to Africa
Thus Albion prevails!
’Cos there’s always xenophobia
When everything else fails.