There was no secret that this is in the Withdrawal Agreement.
It is there in black and white.
Critics of the deal cited it from the start.
It is why more sanitary and phytosanitary (concerning the health of plants) checks will be required on livestock and agrifoods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
So why would Boris Johnson sign a deal knowing from the outset that its terms were such that in plausible circumstances they might lead him to breach international law?
Or was he unusual in simply not knowing?
As for the EU’s take, an official says: “We still need to list the UK as country that can export agriculture stuff.
"It would help if the UK could explain its future regime on food production standards, hygiene, etc.
"Somehow the UK says it will be equivalent to EU, but we need details”.
PS. This from a former UK official: “I have been presuming that their inability to detail the proposed [food standards] regime is down to intense US pressure and the split in HMG as to whether to diverge radically from EU standards or not.
"You can only avoid the choices and trade offs for so long.
"But no partner - EU or US - takes political assurances in trust.
"It’s about legal texts and binding commitments in treaties now”.
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