Amid prayers and platitudes, brazen Boris Johnson’s message to the North is clear: I’ll use and abuse you for as long as it suits me

Churches welcome saints and sinners alike. Even so, it was a jolt to see Boris Johnson kneeling before an altar in Armagh – a man whose word is written on water, who negotiates in bad faith, decides international agreements can be signed one day and broken the next, denies the reality of the dirty war in Northern Ireland, and believes playing fast and loose with our peace is shrewd political manoeuvring.

eing deceitful, crafty and manipulative didn’t disqualify him as a guest of honour at the churches’ partition commemoration which nobody was meant to call a partition commemoration because it absolutely wasn’t a partition commemoration (according to the churches organising it). It was a Service of Reflection and Hope.

In fairness, the event wasn’t celebratory – in fact, several of the churchmen used the verb ‘lament’. And if it was somewhat dull, if it wandered into cliché at times, well, better than generating any further controversy.

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