British politician says UK should threaten Ireland with food shortages as leverage against the backstop 11 months ago

British politician says UK should threaten Ireland with food shortages as leverage against the backstop

We've been here before.

Priti Patel, a conservative MP, has suggested that the UK should use the potential of food shortages in Ireland as leverage against the backstop being introduced.

A report from the British government, reported in the Times of London, suggested that Ireland could face worse food shortages than Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The report also suggested that Ireland would likely see a drop in GDP of up to 7%, against a figure of 5% for the United Kingdom.

As reported by The Times, Brexiteer Patel said that: "This paper appears to show the government were well aware Ireland will face significant issues in a no-deal scenario. Why hasn't this been pressed home during the negotiations? There is still time to go back to Brussels and get a better deal."

Since these comments were made public, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called the remarks distasteful and insensitive.

“I think that statement was, for obvious historical reasons, very distasteful and insensitive and gauche. It also belies, really, a very reckless  and almost juvenile mentality,” McDonald said.

She adds: "British parliamentarians are, of course, entitled to take their position and to plough their democratic furrow. They’re not entitled to wreck Ireland. And they need to really grasp and understand that and we will stand firm in defending Irish interests and we’re not about to be bullied and we’re not about to be threatened by that MP or any other. I would hope that she would reconsider those comments and actually withdraw them from the public record; not least I think they make her look silly and intemperate."

A spokesperson for the Tanaiste, Simon Coveney, has described Patel's claims as "ridiculous."

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, has also said that Patel's remarks represent "the sheer moral bankruptcy of the Tory Brexiteers."

Patel has since released a statement on Twitter which said: "It's clear that my comments on‘ No Deal’ have been taken out of context by some. We should go back to Brussels & get a better deal. There is still time. Let’s take back control of borders, laws & money."