Northern Ireland news

Former diplomat claims Liz Truss made Irish 'farmers with a few turnips' remarks

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Picture by AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

LIZ Truss has been named as the source of controversial remarks that previously downplayed the impact of a no deal Brexit on Ireland.

According to a former diplomat, the British foreign secretary said the only people in Ireland concerned about the UK's failure to reach an agreement with the EU were "farmers with a few turnips in the back of their truck".

The remarks were made in August 2019 during an address to right-wing American think tank the Heritage Foundation. They were made public last October by Alexandra Hall Hall, a former British ambassador to Georgia and at the time Boris Johnson's Brexit counsellor in Washington, who in an article for the Texas National Security Review attributed the comments to an unnamed serving British minister.

However, over recent days Ms Hall Hall has chose to out Ms Truss on social media as the source of the quote.

"So pleased to see Liz Truss become a genuine expert on Irish matters: she was, after all, the minister who told a US audience three years ago that Brexit would not have any serious impact in Ireland … it would merely 'affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks'," the former ambassador said.

When the remarks were made in 2019, Ms Truss was in the US to meet senior Trump administration officials Robert Lighthizer and Wilbur Ross, as well as US Congress representatives and business groups.

On the last night of her visit, she delivered her speech on Britain's post-Brexit global policy ambitions to the Heritage Foundation.

In the Texas National Security Review last autumn, Ms Hall Hall had said the British diplomatic corps and civil servants had been required to promote untruths and inconsistencies about the impact of a no-deal Brexit once Mr Johnson became Conservative Party leader in July 2019.

"A low point for me was when I heard a senior British minister openly and offensively, in front of a US audience, dismiss the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Irish businesses as just affecting 'a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks’," she wrote.

On Monday, Ms Truss outlined a new law the British government planned to introduce that would change the post-Brexit trade deal for Northern Ireland.

It is understood that those close to Ms Truss have claimed not to recognise the comments.

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