It is claimed that a third of Northern Ireland’s milk production is processed in the Irish Republic, and that this would have to cease if businesses in the province were free to work to either EU or UK standards, and that it would take two to three years to set up sufficient extra processing capacity in the north.
Whether or not it would really take that long to counter this particular EU threat it is much longer since November 27 2017 when the Irish EU Commissioner Phil Hogan publicly warned that Ireland would “play tough to the end” over the border, so why has the UK government done nothing about it?
The other side to this would be the loss to the Republic if, as just one example, the unreasonable and spiteful attitude of the EU meant that northern dairy farmers could no longer send their milk south for processing, even if that milk was from the same cows on the same farms still managed in the same way.
The Irish MEP Sean Kelly has been preparing economic reprisals should the UK go ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, but he would do well to look at the 2019 estimate from the German ifo research body that Ireland could have lost 8% of its GDP if the UK had left the EU on WTO terms.
A trade war between the EU and the UK would be in nobody’s interests, but of all the countries in the EU the Irish Republic would be by far the hardest hit; so perhaps the Irish government should be imploring the EU not to do anything stupid, and certainly not be tempted to get its retaliation in first?
Dr D R Cooper, Maidenhead, Berkshire