Northern Ireland news

Theresa May gives her 'assurance' she will not threaten Republic's food supply during Brexit negotiations

Prime Minister Theresa May during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons yesterday. Picture by Mark Duffy/UK Parliament/PA Wire

PRIME Minister Theresa May has given her "assurance" that she will not threaten the Republic's food supply during Brexit negotiations.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mrs May was asked to give her views on the issue by Labour MP Jim McMahon.

The shadow local government minister reminded her an apology had been made in 1997 to the people of Ireland for the British role in the Great Famine.

He then asked Mrs May: "Will the Prime Minister condemn any notion, any suggestion, that food shortages in Ireland will be used to strengthen Britain's negotiating hand during Brexit negotiations?"

In response to the question, the Prime Minister responded: "I am happy to absolutely give that assurance - we would not use that issue in any sense in the negotiating strategy.

Ian Knox cartoon 8/12/18: Tory MP Priti Patel is heavily criticised for suggesting the possibility of food shortages in a no-deal Brexit scenario should be used to encourage the EU to drop the Irish backstop 

"We want to work with the Irish Government to ensure we are providing a good Brexit for the UK, a good Brexit for Ireland, and I believe that would be a good Brexit for the EU."

It comes after Tory MP Priti Patel last week suggested that a report stating Ireland would suffer worse food shortages than the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit could be used as leverage to discourage the introduction of the backstop.

The remarks, which arose after a leaked report from the British government, drew widespread criticism, with Labour MP David Lammy describing the comments as "either extreme callousness or ignorance".

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