STATEMENT FROM RT HON PRITI PATEL MP

Published: 11th December 2018 - 12:13 pm Category: General News

Witham MP Priti Patel has responded to a series of news reports and articles which have distorted comments she has made about trade between the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland. A number of publications had published irresponsible articles which incorrectly claimed that Priti Patel had stated that Ireland should be threatened with food shortages in relation to Brexit negotiations, evoking comparisons with the Irish famine of the mid-nineteenth century. Comments from other public figures have also been included in these reports, exacerbating the inaccurate nature of the views attributed to Priti Patel.

However, at no point did Priti Patel make any comments relating to food shortages or using the threat of food shortages. As a supporter of free markets, Priti Patel’s comments were focused on the importance of the UK Government and the EU returning to the negotiating table to discuss ways to deliver a future that facilitates frictionless trade between the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland to avoid the potential impact of a ‘no deal’ scenario and of the backstop. Her comments were taken out of context and were distorted. Priti Patel said:

“It is disappointing that some media outlets have chosen to twist and distort my comments about trade with Ireland. This has caused immense anger and upset in Ireland and I know that many people who read the headlines and the stories presented to them would have been offended.  I was also sickened by the manner in which this has been reported and the distorted way the media and others have linked my comments about trade to food shortages and famine. I have always been clear that I want to see positive and friendly relations between the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland based on mutual respect, cooperation and frictionless free trade.”

“Both Ireland and the UK benefit enormously from trade between our economies and businesses. I want to see this continue by further negotiations coming up with better proposals than the backstop and then ‘no deal’. It is reckless and irresponsible for people to take my comments out of context to stoke up anger and fear when we should be working together on these matters. I have written to a number of those outlets to request that they correct the record.”

“I am grateful for everyone who has been in touch with me to check the details of this story and I am pleased to correct the record.”

Notes:

Five examples of misleading reports that distorted comments made by Priti Patel MP:

Independent (Ireland), ‘Fury at Tory’s call to threaten Ireland with food shortages’, 8 December 2018, https://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/fury-at-torys-call-to-threaten-ireland-with-food-shortage-37606209.html

The report states: “A suggestion that the threat of food shortages be used to force Ireland to drop the backstop…”

· At no point did Priti Patel suggest that Ireland should be threatened with food shortages. The article and the headline are false and misleading.

Independent (UK), ‘Britain should use risk of food shortages in Ireland to get better Brexit deal, says Priti Patel MP’, 7 December 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-ireland-food-shortages-threat-risk-priti-patel-negotiate-better-deal-a8672326.html

The report states: “Britain should use the threat of food shortages in Ireland to secure a better Brexit deal from the EU, a former cabinet minister has said. Priti Patel, the former international development secretary, said the threat to the Irish economy should have been exploited by the UK government during negotiations with Brussels.”

· At no point did Priti Patel suggest that Ireland should be threatened with food shortages. The article and the headline are false and misleading.

Irish Central, ‘Threat to cut food supplies to Ireland over Brexit by leading Tory politician, 9 December 2018, https://www.irishcentral.com/news/politics/threat-to-cut-food-supplies-to-ireland-brexit-tory-priti-patel

The report states: “A senior British political figure who called for a discussion on halting all British food into Ireland if the Irish continue to insist on a no border deal has been forced to clarify her comments.” 

· Priti Patel never called for a discussion on halting food into Ireland. Both the headline and the report are false.

Irish Times, ‘Outrage after British MP suggests Irish food shortages could be used to force EU to drop Brexit backstop’, 7 December 2018, https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/leaked-british-papers-say-republic-could-face-food-shortages-in-no-deal-brexit-1.3723998

The report states: “It has emerged that former Conservative Party minister Priti Patel suggested that the UK should use the threat of food shortages in Ireland to persuade the EU to drop the backstop demand…Priti Patel told The Times that the British government should use the potentially disastrous economic predictions as leverage against the EU.”

· Priti Patel has never stated nor “told The Times” that the threat of food shortages and economic predictions should be used as leverage. The headline and the content of the report are false.

Irish Times, ‘Leaked British papers say Republic could face food shortages in no-deal Brexit’, 8 December 2018, https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/outrage-after-british-mp-suggests-13700520

The report states: “The paper [The Times] 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.” 

· Priti Patel has never stated or quoted to The Times that food shortages should be “used as leverage in negotiations.” The content of this report is factually incorrect.


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