According to a terse official statement issued yesterday by the government in London, during a series of meetings in Belfast the new British premier Boris Johnson informed the leaders of the main political parties in the north-east of the country that his minority administration remained fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement and the maintenance of the delicately balanced peace process between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The press release claimed that the Conservative Party chief had made clear:
…his belief and commitment in the rigorous impartiality set out in the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement, while at the same time reaffirming his determination to strengthen the Union and Northern Ireland’s place within it.
Which begs the question. How on earth can one be “rigorously impartial” on the constitutional status of the Six Counties while seeking to “strengthen” the disputed region’s constitutional position within the UK? No wonder the representatives of the hardline Democratic Unionist Party emerged from Wednesday’s gathering with a smug look on their faces following an earlier meeting between the DUP boss Arlene Foster and Boris Johnson late on Tuesday evening. It seems that Britain’s Irish policies are once again being decided in the DUP headquarters in Dundela Avenue and not in the British prime minster’s residence in Downing Street.