Brexit and Northern Ireland’s food supply


A chara, – I nearly choked on my Tesco cornflakes while reading Newton Emerson’s eloquent plea for Northern Ireland’s dominant supermarket chains to be granted a special exemption from EU single market and customs union rules (“EU reveals indifference as it takes its threat to North’s food supply to the wire”, Opinion & Analysis, November 12th).

Apparently, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, there is a threat that food supplies in Northern Ireland would be disrupted by customs and health checks.

Your columnist appears to be unaware that Northern Ireland will have an open border with the rest of Ireland and there is no threat to food supplies here.

Indeed, we are one of the EU’s largest food exporters.

If there are any issues with food supply in the North, it will be due to rigidities in the supermarket supply chains and an insistence that all supplies must be routed through Britain.

Businesses of all sorts have had adequate time now to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, and most have made alternative arrangements to deal with possible customs delays.

Indeed, Irish businesses have had to make elaborate contingency plans to avoid the land-bridge through Britain.

It is not part of the EU’s remit to ensure Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda’s near-monopoly positions in Northern Ireland are protected.

Let them do what every business has to do, and make appropriate contingency arrangements for a no-deal Brexit, which is, after all, the preferred option for many Brexit activists.

Blaming the EU for the consequences of Brexit, and for the failure of the Johnson government to honour its commitments under the withdrawal agreement and maintain good relations with the EU post-Brexit, are hardly the hallmarks of a mature polity.

Newton Emerson’s article should be regarded as part and parcel of the campaign that will break out after a no-deal Brexit, when the sunny uplands of a post-Brexit world turn out to have a few clouds after all.

I may just have to eat Aldi cornflakes instead. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.