No deal on Brexit risks food short­age in Ire­land: leak

The Dominion Post - - World - Lisa Nandy, Labour MP

Ire­land faces food short­ages and will suf­fer a big­ger eco­nomic hit than Bri­tain in the event of a no-deal Brexit, ac­cord­ing to leaked UK Gov­ern­ment papers.

Cabi­net min­is­ters and Brex­i­teers have seized on the papers, ob­tained by as they be­lieve their con­tents could let Theresa May put pres­sure on Ire­land to drop the ‘‘back­stop’’.

The papers say the UK leav­ing the EU with­out a deal would cause a 7 per cent drop in GDP for Ire­land, com­pared with a 5 per cent drop in Bri­tain. This is be­cause Ire­land is ‘‘a more open econ­omy than the UK, ac­count­ing for 60 per cent of GDP com­prised of goods im­ports and ex­ports, as op­posed to 40 per cent for Great Bri­tain’’.

Ire­land is also more de­pen­dent on the UK than the other way round, with Bri­tain ac­count­ing for 13.1 per cent of Ir­ish ex­ports and 29.1 per cent of im­ports, the papers say.

Some 80 per cent of Ir­ish road freight that reaches the EU passes through the UK. Any ad­di­tional checks at the bor­der – even one way from Great Bri­tain into Ire­land – ‘‘would cause chal­lenges’’, ac­cord­ing to the as­sess­ment. It adds that ‘‘political and so­cial dam­age would likely fol­low’’.

The papers spec­ify that trade in per­ish­able goods, such as food sup­plies, would be par­tic­u­larly badly af­fected.

Priti Pa­tel, the for­mer cabi­net minister, said: ‘‘This pa­per 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.’’

Lisa Nandy, a Labour MP, said: ‘‘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, and it is fright­en­ing that Brex­i­teers are even con­tem­plat­ing a move which could see stop­ping trade, in­clud­ing food sup­plies, be­ing weaponised in this way, par­tic­u­larly given the un­com­fort­able his­tor­i­cal echoes.’’

A se­nior Ir­ish gov­ern­ment source said that a deal on the with­drawal agree­ment has al­ready been reached be­tween the EU task­force and the UK Gov­ern­ment, which in­cludes a back­stop for the Ir­ish bor­der.

‘‘That will not be chang­ing, un­der any cir­cum­stances,’’ the source said.

An­other Ir­ish gov­ern­ment source said that con­tin­gency plan­ning for a hard Brexit had been un­der way for most of this year.

‘‘We are pre­pared if there is a nodeal sce­nario next March.

‘‘We also have a com­mit­ment from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to sup­port Ire­land against the fall­out from a hard Brexit.’’

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