The Protocol was negotiated in late 2019 to replace the so-called “Backstop” agreed by Theresa May which, in order to avoid a border on the island of Ireland, would have kept the whole of the UK in the EU Customs Union. On the UK side, with Boris Johnson newly installed in Downing Street, the protocol, we are now told, was accepted in the knowledge that it was unworkable but that it would “get Brexit done”.

Believing it to be no more than a temporary inconvenience that they could subsequently discard, Johnson agreed to the protocol as an integral part of the UK’s international trade and cooperation treaty with the EU, hailing it, together with the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party, as the answer to a previously intractable problem. Johnson’s negotiator David Frost did warn it was a problem, privately. Johnson made the decision.