The former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne believes the majority of the English public “will not care” if Northern Ireland leaves the UK for a united Ireland.
r Osborne - a former Conservative MP - said that by “unleashing” English nationalism, Brexit has made the future of the UK the central political issue of the coming decade.
He also lambasted Northern Ireland’s unionists for scuppering Theresa May’s Brexit deal which would have avoided introducing separate trading arrangements for the country.
Writing in the London Evening Standard, where he is now editor-in-chief, Mr Osborne said that Northern Ireland is “heading for the exit door” from the UK.
Some supermarket shelves here were depleted this month as suppliers grappled with new rules surrounding sending goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Protocol means the country follows the EU’s rules on matters like animal product standards.
“By remaining in the EU single market, it is for all economic intents and purposes now slowly becoming part of a united Ireland,” wrote Mr Osborne.
“Its prosperity now depends on its relationship with Dublin (and Brussels), not London. The politics will follow.
“Northern Irish unionists always feared the mainland was not sufficiently committed to their cause.
“Now their short-sighted support for Brexit (and unbelievably stupid decision to torpedo Theresa May’s deal that avoided separate Irish arrangements) has made those fears a reality.
“It pains me to report that most here and abroad will not care.”
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has previously said there is no Irish Sea border and important preparations had been made for the end of the Brexit transition period, while the DUP has strongly criticised the new arrangements.
Processed goods like jelly or gravy could be unavailable in Northern Ireland at the end of the protocol grace period, the party’s Agriculture Minister said.
Edwin Poots acknowledged the country had plenty of homegrown beef and potatoes but warned Northern Ireland Assembly members trimmings like Bisto or trifle could be missing from traditional Sunday dinners.