SO, it’s to be war.

Rallying the “nation” to withstand attack has long been a favoured ploy of Conservative premiers, losing the grip at home. Now, to distract the public from policy failure and recession, Boris Johnson has moved on to a war footing on several fronts.

Not just in solidarity with Ukraine – and to be fair the origins of that conflict have everything to do with Vladimir Putin and nowt to do with him. But also with the EU as the PM prepares to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol and spark a trade war entirely of his own making. But a war he will try to lay at the feet of the hostile, straight-banana-loving Europeans. This time though, the ploy may not wash.

Sure, the Brexit-supporting majority in England are still unaccountably keen on taking back control. True, Her Madge’s Opposition are still reluctant to even name Brexit as a factor in the current cost of living crisis. And yip, the mainstream media is quite happy to report unbelievable hikes in the cost of raw materials as if those troublesome wee price tags keep shooting up all on their own. Of course, some price hikes are caused by the war in Ukraine. But many are down to the chronic supply shortages that have become our new Brexit normal.

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Likewise ubiquitous staff shortages – some certainly a backlash against employers who laid off staff rather than pay them throughout furlough. But a lot down to Brexit.

And now, it’s going to get worse.

As the country reels from an unprecedented peacetime cost-of-living crisis, our Prime Minister is going to pick a fight with Brussels that’s bound to produce a trade war, causing even higher prices.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced yesterday that the Government will reject the EU’s proposals to fix issues with the Northern Ireland protocol, which it says has disrupted trade and led to political turmoil at Stormont.

Now that’s pretty rich.

Yes, there is turmoil. But last week there was also a democratic election which produced an assembly, two-thirds of whose new members actually SUPPORT the protocol, because it gives Northern Ireland the best of both worlds. Able to trade seamlessly with Ireland and the EU and with GB once the paperwork’s completed. Not ideal. But workable.

And yet, because the trounced Democratic Unionists are holding the Stormont assembly to ransom Boris has ignored the pro-protocol balance of public opinion and is rushing headlong towards a trade war that will damage the whole UK.

Partly because of the political impasse in Belfast. But mostly because an angry rammy with Brussels will give him a tiny piece of cover from the unprecedented meltdown in living standards taking place on his watch.

So far, the wheeze is going to plan.

Downing Street’s new piece of legislation, which lets the UK unilaterally scrap parts of the Brexit agreement it signed in 2020, will apparently be ready next week. Brussels says this would renege on the deal and breach London’s obligations within this international agreement.

Neither side will back down so the smart money is on chaos.

According to the well-informed Politico: “Without a dramatic change in fortunes over the next few days, London and Brussels are heading for a bust-up of epic proportions.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has warned the EU will cancel the entire Brexit deal, impose tariffs on British goods and begin a trade war if the protocol is torn up by Number 10.

“Our message is quite clear: Don’t touch this … If that agreement is revoked, then I would think the whole system will be revoked. I would not see any other solution.”

But Boris is pressing ahead, presumably in the hope that a trade war with Brussels will bring errant Red Wall supporters back to heel.

How will that work when no almighty, self-harming and foolish punch-up can overshadow the real issue of the day – Boris Johnson’s colossal YAWN in the face of the worst financial crisis to hit the country in recent times?

Johnson’s “tough love” message after the Queen’s Speech told the little people no cavalry is coming, despite think tank predictions that half the country will soon be plunged into fuel poverty.

That misjudged, tone-deaf, do-nothing approach will come to haunt Boris, just as Rishi Sunak’s “let them eat cake” spending statement now haunts him.

Indeed, later in the debate Johnson backtracked and said more support would arrive in the “next few days”.

But as punters and press speculated that Boris or Rishi might be about to DO something, the heavy team was sent out to disabuse us of that crazy notion.

There will be no emergency budget to tackle the crisis, frothed Michael Gove on BBC Breakfast. Yes, Johnson did promise further support for struggling families, but no he didn’t mean now. Those remarks were “common-sensical” and “overinterpreted”.

Michael, awa an bile yer heid. No-one’s buying it. Because no one believes the government is powerless to act – right now.

BP bosses tell us a windfall tax wouldn’t damage planned investments in renewable energy – but STILL the Tories won’t impose one, because it’s Labour Party policy. Everyone sees this.

We’ve all witnessed the UK Government swinging out the “Do Not Disturb” sign as the country faces meltdown.

I doubt even the worst Daily Mail caricature of intransigent Europeans will get Boris out of this one. Especially when it becomes increasingly clear most folk and businesses in Northern Ireland fear that ditching the protocol will jeopardise their special EU export corridor.

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No matter how much the DUP and Tories batter on about sovereignty and principle, many Unionists are more concerned with practicalities. They’re the kind of folk who’ve taken out Irish passports in such great numbers that last week there were more Irish than British passports held in Northern Ireland, for the first time.

So, could this false assault, this phoney war be the last straw for many “middle-of-the-road” Unionists? Yes it could.

And here on the British mainland, the same thing could happen.

All the interests Boris has tried to placate and indulge, with empty, contradictory promises – they are all likely to see the ensuing EU trade war as a pointless battle at a terrible time for everyone.

A bit like the wronged partners in a Carry-On farce, all the groups Boris has wooed have been brought together by the current crisis – Red Wall and Blue Wall voters, Brexiteers and Remainers, Tory shires and deprived areas awaiting levelling-up, working families on benefits and business owners who can’t get staff; fishermen already struggling to get shellfish into the EU and City money-men who know Brussels retaliation might hit them hard.

No-one will win in the pointless trade war Boris Johnson is about to unleash. But whether he stays or goes as a result, it will doubtless increase support for independence.

On top of all the other questions No voters must ask themselves, there’s now a new one. Did you vote for a trade war with Europe?

If not, how can you guarantee it never happens again?