Leaked British papers say Republic could face food shortages in no-deal Brexit

Government papers claim Ireland could also see 7% drop in gross domestic product

If there is major disruption across the UK at ports such as Dover and  Holyhead, this is bound to lead to some delays and disruption to products entering Ireland in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Getty Images

If there is major disruption across the UK at ports such as Dover and Holyhead, this is bound to lead to some delays and disruption to products entering Ireland in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Leaked British government papers claim the Republic could face food shortages and a 7 per cent drop in gross domestic product (GDP) if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Times newspaper reported on Friday.

The paper quoted Conservative MP Priti Patel as saying that this should be used as leverage in negotiations to get Ireland to drop its insistence on the backstop guarantee relating to the Border.

The papers specify that trade in perishable goods, such as food supplies, would be particularly badly affected, though it is not clear what part of the UK government produced the report.

Official sources in Dublin were dismissive of it, saying that extensive preparations were under way to prepare for all Brexit scenarios, including in the food sector.

The leaking of the documents and other recent comments by the hard Brexit lobby are seen in Dublin as a ploy to try to put pressure on the Irish Government, which continues to insist that there will be no change to the backstop provision in the withdrawal agreement.

It is not clear how quickly the UK official forecasts reported in the Times suggest Ireland would be hit, but it focuses on the trading exposure of the Irish economy, reportedly saying this means the economic damage here would be greater than the UK.

Sources here say that preparations are already under way to limit any impact in supplies to shops in the case of a no-deal Brexit, but that upheaval and delay for a period is possible if there are major hold-ups in freight traffic between Ireland and the UK.

A key problem for supermarkets is that many of their products come directly from UK warehouses into the distribution centres of Irish supermarkets, moving on a daily basis with limited storage on the island of Ireland.

Sources say that Bord Bia has worked with the major groups on these key supply chain issues, and extra storage capacity is being considered in Ireland by some groups to offset the impact of any hard Brexit next March.

However, if there is major disruption across the UK at ports such as Dover and also at Holyhead, this is bound to lead to some delays and disruption to products entering Ireland in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

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