Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Propaganda' - Government dismisses reports Ireland faces food shortages and a bigger economic hit than Britain

Major consequences for Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to leaked British government paper

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Downing Street
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Downing Street
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

REPORTS that Ireland faces food shortages and a drop in GDP of 7pc in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been dismissed as "propaganda".

Senior Government sources have roundly rejected leaked UK documents which show Ireland faces the risk of food shortages and a drop in GDP of 7pc in the event of a no deal Brexit.

A report in the Times UK has sparked a furious backlash, with critics accusing Brexiteers of using the threat of food shortages as ‘morally repugnant’. 

A senior source described the material, which is described as a government document, as "propaganda" and suggested it emanated from the hardline Brexiteer ERG group.

In relation to food shortages there may be some impacts to supply chain movement on the outcome of Brexit but there is contingency planning underway for all eventualities according to the source.

Some Brexiteers, including Priti Patel  have called for the analysis to be used to pressure Ireland to drop the backstop but this has been rejected in Dublin.

Read more: Ireland's financial system hugely exposed to Brexit downturn

Both the Taoiseach and senior EU figures including Jean Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier have been "absolutely clear the deal on the table is the deal and it's not up for renegotiation", the source said.

The suggestion has also come under fire in the UK with Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon branding it as morally repugnant.

“The sheer moral bankruptcy of the Tory Brexiteers is on full display today,” she wrote on Twitter.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond, the party’s European Affairs spokesperson, said the intervention came at a time when there is no scope for renegotiation.

“This is an extremely tense time in UK politics as the Withdrawal Bill makes its way through Westminster soliciting a wide range of actions,” he said.

“The fact of the matter is that there can be no Withdrawal Agreement without an Irish specific backstop, this is something the British Government has agreed to. There is not scope to renegotiate this.”

The “extreme rhetoric” from arch Brexiteers was based on a belief “that they alone can deliver something else and they can split European solidarity to achieve this. Neither is achievable”, he said.

“What is on offer is this deal, no deal or indeed no Brexit. The negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement have ended,” he added.

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