Disgraced former minister Priti Patel is in hot water again today – for gleefully suggesting that the threat of food shortages in a no deal Brexit could be used to encourage Ireland to drop their insistence on a backstop to prevent a hard border across Ireland.
The former Tory Minister for International Development was reacting to a government report leaked to theTimes newspaper that outlined food shortages would be worse for Ireland than the UK in a no deal Brexit.
According to the leaked government report, if Britain leaves the EU with no other deal negotiated, trade between Britain and Ireland would revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
The UK would first have to apply to become a member of the WTO, and as over half of Ireland’s food arrives from the UK, the country would suffer shortages of food as well as other items.
The secret report suggests a no deal situation would lead to a 7% drop in GDP for Ireland, even worse than the 5% drop for Britain.
Perhaps worse still was the Brexiteer Conservative MP’s reaction. Patel, with staggering insensitivity, appeared enthusiastic about using the threat of food shortages as leverage against Ireland.
Historians still today argue about whether the millions who dies in the period of the Great Famine or Irish Potato Famine while Ireland was under British rule was an act of genocide by Westminster.
But Patel’s grip of history appears as slack as her grip of diplomacy that meant she had to resign as International Development minister after failing to declare meetings with the Israeli PM and a donor lobbyist after which she suggested British aid money was spent on Israeli army projects.
“This paper appears to show thegovernment were well aware Ireland will face significant issues in a no-deal scenario,” Patel told the Times. “Why hasn’t this point been pressed home during negotiations? There is still time to go back to Brussels and get a better deal.”
Patel’s shocking comments have been rounded on by various political figures today.
Labour MP Lisa Nandy told the Times that “threatening Ireland in this way is as morally reprehensible as it is futile. Britain should be showing itself to be a dependable neighbour and friend in the future.”
“The sheer moral bankruptcy of the Tory Brexiteers is on full display today,” reacted Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.