The prime minister came to Northern Ireland to praise the Windsor Framework, not to bury Brexit; but he appears to have done both.
On his tour of the province, he said, “Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position, unique position in the entire world, the European continent; in having privileged access, not just to the UK home market, which is enormous, the fifth-biggest in the world, but also the European Union’s single market. Nobody else has that. No one, only you guys. Only here and that is the prize.
“I can tell you, when I go around the world and talk to businesses, they know. They’re like, ‘That’s interesting, if you guys get this sorted, then we want to invest in Northern Ireland.’ Because nowhere else does that exist. That’s like the world’s most exciting economic zone.”
You really could not make it up. The Brexit-loving prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is boasting that NI has the best deal in the world because it is both part of the UK and of the single market.
And he is right, Northern Ireland does have a great deal in the world. It is exactly the same deal that the whole of the UK used to have before Rishi Sunak and his mates threw it all away.
That is why Northern Ireland’s trade with the EU is booming – up by £1 billion last year – that is why it has grown much faster than the rest of the country and why it is now the second largest recipient of foreign investment in the UK after London.
The foreign investment would have been even higher but for the suicidally stupid threats by previous Conservative administrations to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol and start a trade war with the EU. Now that threat is removed, it will doubtless soar.
But does Sunak really understand what he is saying? He is totally giving the game away.
The logical conclusion, in fact the only conclusion one can possibly make from his speech, is that the rest of the UK has got a worse deal, is worse off as a result and would be much better off in the single market, just like Northern Ireland is.
And once again the PM is right. Leaving the EU was a mistake, but leaving the single market was a crime. Billions of pounds a year in red tape, delays and border checks have been imposed on the economy, access to the huge economy on our doorstep has been worsened, the attractiveness of Great Britain as a place to set up your European base has been destroyed, threats to tear up international law and to create new useless regulatory systems have shattered confidence and damaged growth.
Global Britain was and is nothing but an economically illiterate joke, a fantasy for xenophobes and exceptionalists. It is costing the country tens of billions a year.
The PM knows this – he used to deny it but now we know that he knows it.
Because he visited “the world’s most exciting economic zone”, got carried away and told the good people of Northern Ireland the truth.
The Labour Party should put this speech on a loop and play it endlessly, they should make it the turning point which allows them to tell the truth too. Leaving the single market has made the UK poorer, weaker and less attractive. Rejoining it solves all those problems.
They and we know that because the PM has told us; and the prime minister is an honourable man.