Priti Patel, the United Kingdom’s former Secretary of State for International Development, has urged London to use the threat of food shortages in Ireland to secure a more advantageous Brexit withdrawal agreement for the UK. The Conservative Party MP was reacting to a leaked British government report which claimed that the Irish economy could suffer a 7% drop in gross domestic product if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, with transport chaos possibly leading to delayed or blocked food shipments at UK seaports and airports. The Tory ex-minister, who resigned from her post following a scandal about off-the-record meetings with Israeli officials, told The Times newspaper that the briefing document:
“…appears to show the government were well aware Ireland will face significant issues in a no-deal scenario. Why hasn’t this point been pressed home during the negotiations?
There is still time to go back to Brussels and get a better deal.”
The statement by the hard-right politician, with echoes of the British reaction to the Great Famine of the 1840s, has drawn widespread condemnation in Ireland, while Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was one of the few UK leaders to criticise it.
“The sheer moral bankruptcy of the Tory Brexiteers is on full display today.”
It seems that the old saying about God sending the blight but the English sending the famine may yet have some relevancy for the modern politics of both island nations.