Declassified Docs Reveal Irish Diplomat Said Boris Johnson Had 'Naive Views' of Northern Ireland
In the 1990s, long before becoming a Tory MP and then British prime minister, Boris Johnson was a journalist, having worked at such outlets as The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Spectator.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had "naive views" of Northern Ireland
when he was a journalist, according to a description by an Irish Embassy official revealed in declassified papers cited by The Independent.
Johnson and Irish diplomat Colin Wrafter went to lunch together on 24 April 1995, the details of which were disclosed in the now released Department of Foreign Affairs files.
Wrafter described Johnson as being a "Eurosceptic" and "Thatcherite" in a diplomatic memo that was forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on 27 April of that year. The venue of their meeting remains unknown.
"He has written approvingly – if naively – of the Northern Ireland Tories in his weekly column in The Daily Telegraph. Our lunch took place before the announcement by the British government that it would commence ministerial talks with Sinn Fein", Wrafter says of Johnson. "It says something for the standing of The Daily Telegraph that he knew what the British government would announce that afternoon and that his (press) lobby colleague, Phil Johnson, had time to travel to Belfast for Minister Ancram's briefing at 5pm".
According to Wrafter, Johnson "was reflecting a view widely held by political journalists in Westminster" when the then-journalist noted that "the prime minister is determined to proceed with the peace process at a pace just a little on the right side of 'stalling'".
"While the prime minister wants history to acknowledge his role in helping to bring about peace in the North, he is determined to move cautiously in order to avoid the risk of exposing himself to Tory backbench unrest", the memo said.
The Irish diplomat summed up Johnson's journalistic portfolio, noting that he was "previously Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and was recalled to London to succeed Simon Heffer at The Spectator when the latter was made deputy editor at The Daily Telegraph".
Later n 1999, Johnson would become editor of The Spectator, then proceeding to become a Conservative MP in the early 2000s.
Now as the United Kingdom is still dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and struggling to negotiate new rules for trade with the European Union, Northern Ireland has drawn specific attention since it does not have a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. Under the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), however, all goods coming from the rest of the UK must undergo checks upon arrival to see if they comply with EU sanitary regulations.
21 December 2021, 10:37 GMT
London has argued that the protocol is not working due to the delays it causes to goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. In December, the UK's chief negotiator on post-Brexit relations with the EU, David Frost, resigned from the position and said that "Brexit is now secure". He is set to be replaced by Liz Truss, with London expressing the desire to renegotiate the entire protocol.