Brexit has dominated the headlines for the past couple of years because of its potential implications in an already significantly globalized world, and especially as a European power. But what is little discussed is the potential outcome of Northern Ireland, which is a part of the European Union, in the case of a no-deal Brexit move. If the UK leaves the European Union on October 31st as is currently the plan in place, this could severely impact the relations between Northern Ireland, who relies heavily on trade with mainland Europe and the rest of the world. Many in Northern Ireland favor a no-deal Brexit especially as fear grows among business owners. Boris Johnson has been particularity adamant about overhauling a backstop former Prime Minister, Theresa May, tried to stop from taking form in the case of the UK leaving the European Union. This backstop would prevent border checks on imports and exports between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The British Prime Minister stronger rejects this backstop as he feels it would link the United Kingdom closer to the European Union.
One of the main concerns in the case of a no-deal Brexit for Northern Ireland is food shortage, especially in terms of fresh produce. This is a crucial and relevant claim as roughly 28% of food in the UK comes from the EU. Along those lines, 70% of tomatoes and 86% of lettuces come from the EU. Currently, stores are stockpiling items in the case of a no Brexit deal but prominent figures like Aodhán Connolly, who is a member of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, say that stockpiling can only go so far and it isn’t an effective or sustainable of a method to be used on a regular basis. Aside from food, another possible outcome form a no-deal Brexit would be an increase in price on alcohol. There are currently no tariffs through the World Trade Organization imposed on alcohol, but with a no-deal Brexit this could be likely to change. Not to mention the delays on imports and outports this would cause as many ports could be closed. For sheep farmers such as Jazz McDonnell, a no-deal Brexit could mean export tariffs to the European Union on the animals could rise over 50%. Additionally animals traveling from Northern Ireland to the Republic would technically be breaking smuggling rules by bringing animals from a non EU country to an EU country without being checked out for health purposes. Food shortage would not only be detrimental to consumers but especially for farmers. The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association recently said that 40% of the 40,000 of jobs in the food and drink industry could vanish in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Another major concern that could have life or death consequences is the flow of medicine between Northern Ireland and the EU. Currently 75% of medicines that the UK consumes come from the mainland EU. The possibility of a shortage is particularity worrisome for those who are high risk patients such as patients who are diabetic. Dr Tom Black, of the Northern Ireland counterpart of the British Medical Association, has been adamant about expressing his concern about the matter. Perhaps particularity determinate however, is the potential lack of radioisotopes available. Radioisotopes can be used to fight cancer and are used in some methods of scans.
Forms of communication could be affected as well. Currently, UK residents can travel throughout the EU without incurring roaming charges on their mobile phones. This could all change in the case of a no-deal Brexit. While many phone carriers aren’t planning on putting in place roaming charges, people could unwillingly switch over as they get close to the border. As far as electricity in Northern Ireland, things are expected to run as normal and the lights are most likely going to be unaffected by a no-deal Brexit. This can in large part by attributed by the fact that Northern Ireland receives energy from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. But even so, for those in rural areas, this could cause delays or problems.
Another aspect of concern is the potential violence that a no-deal Brexit could bring back to Northern Ireland. In 1998, the violence collectivity known as “The Troubles” officially ended with a very fragile peace deal that sought to unite Northern Ireland and the surrounding British entities and unionists. A no-deal Brexit could rehash the underlying tension that surrounds the country and cause major human rights violations similar to those seen during the troubles. Not to mention the economic downfall that would certainly follow with the potential weakening of trade and increasing unemployment as a result of the harsh tariffs on agriculture and food. The Northern Ireland aspect in the case of Brexit is something that should not be taken lightly as it could have significant consequences in the lives of many.
Beesley, Arthur. “Northern Ireland Pins Its Hopes on a Brexit Deal.” Financial Times, Financial Times, 16 Sept. 2019, www.ft.com/content/d6924534-d61a-11e9-a0bd-ab8ec6435630.
Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-09-25/what-happens-the-day-after-a-no-deal-brexit.
“Brexit: All You Need to Know about the UK Leaving the EU.” BBC News, BBC, 16 Sept. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887.
Kelpie, Colm. “Brexit: How Would No-Deal Affect Northern Ireland?” BBC News, BBC, 22 Sept. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-49635766.