Another shameless Boris Johnson intervention

When nationalist politicians warned that Brexit risked creating serious tension and upheaval along the border and elsewhere in Ireland, prominent Conservatives figures regularly attempted to dismiss their concern as scaremongering.

It was therefore particularly striking to find Boris Johnson claiming at the weekend that a failure to support the astonishing legislation he is proposing to override the EU Withdrawal Agreement which he endorsed only last year would `seriously endanger peace and stability' in Ireland.

Mr Johnson's shameless intervention was the latest bizarre twist over what is officially known as the Internal Markets Bill, which is due to be debated by MPs for the first time later today.

His Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis has already admitted that the measure, which has split the Conservative Party and caused uproar across Europe, will break international law in what he described as a `specific and limited way.'

Two former prime ministers, Tony Blair and John Major, in a joint article for The Sunday Times yesterday, condemned Mr Johnson's proposal as "irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice".

They said that it was clear that the legislation would jeopardise the Irish peace process, in which they played a central role, as well as undermining the rule of law, and a number of senior Tories, including previous party leaders Theresa May and Michael Howard have expressed deep alarm over the move.

There will be widespread support across Ireland for the stance taken yesterday by both taoiseach Micheál Martin and the minister for foreign affairs, Simon Coveney, who stressed the need for a firm EU response to the UK's `extraordinary' approach

The British premier's comfortable majority of 80 seats would normally guarantee his legislation a safe passage through the House of Commons, although there are indications that opposition among Tory backbenchers is growing and an equally hostile reception awaits in the Lords.

However, as Mr Johnson has already effectively declared that he is prepared to break existing laws in order to facilitate his hard-line Brexit plans, there must be every prospect that he will finds ways to implement his appalling Internal Markets Bill.

He plainly has no interest in the views of the people of Ireland and indeed Scotland, so he can hardly be surprised to find the final break-up of the union rising steadily to the top of the political agenda.