Political hunger games

Commissioner Phil Hogan. RollingNews.ie photo


By Irish Echo Staff

Given history, perhaps it wasn’t a good idea for a British Conservative Party MP to bring up the idea of food shortages in Ireland, this time in the context of Brexit.

But that’s precisely what Priti Patel MP did when she suggested that food supplies to and from Ireland through the UK “landbridge” should be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations to secure an improved Brexit agreement for London from Brussels, and to encourage Ireland to drop the “backstop” option intended to prevent a post-Brexit hard border on the island of Ireland.

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Ireland’s EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan, for one, was having none of it.

Hogan, whose portfolio is agriculture, so food, reacted by saying that such a move would lead not to the starvation of the Irish people, but rather the “British people.”

Hogan, according to multiple media reports, said he believed British consumers would be “horrified” with the suggestion by Patel – the former British government secretary for international development - that food supplies to and from Ireland through the UK “landbridge” should be used as a bargaining chip.

Mr. Hogan said her remarks demonstrated “how much out of touch” the Conservative MP was because the UK must imported sixty percent of its food.

Moreover, he pointed out, 43 percent of the food consumed by the UK comes from the Republic of Ireland.

“So if she wants to advocate a policy that brings about starvation of the British people this is a good way of going about it,” Hogan said.

Irish food is “very good quality” and “very popular in the UK,” Hogan added.

“Consumers will be horrified at the notion that a senior politician, a former minister, would take such a view of being hostile to the food security requirements of the country in which they are residing. I think that that will be seen for what it is. It is a very narrow focus. I doubt if she has any support for this view.”

Patel was forced to quit her cabinet position after the exposing of secret meetings with the Israeli government.

After the uproar surrounding her “landbridge” remarks, Patel stepped back from them saying that they had been “taken out of context.”