Brussels, London Economically, Northern Ireland is a dwarf. The British part of the country has 1.8 million inhabitants and contributes only two percent to the UK’s economic output.
Politically, however, the province’s importance could hardly be greater: in the coming months it could trigger the first trade war between the EU and Britain after Brexit.
Europeans are now openly threatening punitive tariffs if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sticks to his Northern Ireland course. “We would not like to do it, but we would be ready,” French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said last week.
A diplomat in Brussels said: “The EU will shut down and react decisively to British violations of the Northern Ireland Protocol.” If the British continue to breach their contractual obligations unilaterally, there could be a “serious conflict”.
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