Boris Johnson doesn’t think of himself as Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, according to former Labour press chief Alastair Campbell.
Speaking to veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie, the ex-spin doctor described the current Conservative government as “the worst” the country has ever had.
Mr Campbell, who was at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, also said he was shocked by the strength of contempt business people here have for the government’s attitude towards Northern Ireland during Brexit negotiations.
In the episode of Eamonn Mallie: Face to Face with... due to be broadcast on UTV at 10.45pm this Tuesday, Mr Campbell said: “The thing for which Tony (Blair) and John Major enjoy enormous credit is the fact that, controversially some might say, they can’t get voted for by Northern Ireland.
“Yet absolutely, in their core, understood that they were Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“This guy (Johnson) doesn’t give it a moment’s thought.”
He also talked about the surprise at the strength of feeling about the alleged damage to the peace process caused by Brexit.
“I couldn’t believe the depth of the contempt that they have for what the government is doing with the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland — and I think that is a consequence of Brexit.’’
Mr Campbell also joked about not knowing Mr Blair was going to say his famous “hand of history” line just before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
“We hear these words come out and it was very nicely said but it clearly ramped up expectations in a big way, so when he came back I said ‘What the hell was that about?’” he said.
“He said, ‘It’s just what I felt’, so maybe it was just a kind of instinct.”
Mr Campbell also said he could remember the Monday morning in Downing Street when Mr Blair came “bounding in the door” and said he “worked out how to do Ireland”.
“In a sense he had and it was very simple, here are the principles — consent, equality — these are the issues we have to deal with, these are the people we need to bring in and off we went,” he said.
When asked what he thinks is wrong with the UK at the moment, Mr Campbell said: “The short answer for me is Brexit, but Brexit is maybe a consequence of stuff that was going wrong before.
“I think our institutions are being undermined...”
When asked what the solution is, he said: “I don’t know, that’s what I find so frustrating, the solution ought to be the opposition.”