Boris Johnson criticises Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland
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Kirsty Blackman appeared to link the recent vegetable shortages plaguing UK supermarkets to Brexit, sparking a furious reaction on BBC Question Time. Ms Blackman told the BBC panel programme last night that “they are not rationing vegetables in Spain, and not rationing them in France”. However, GB News journalist and political commentator, Tom Harwood rebuked this claim, pointing out that Ireland, a member of the single market, has the same tomato shortage as the UK.
This comes after the shortages of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, salad bags, broccoli and cauliflowers in the UK led several supermarkets to impose rationing.
Five leading supermarket chains in Britain – Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, and Asda – have so far limited the number of vegetables that customers can buy.
Together, the five chains represent around two-thirds of the market share of grocery stores in Britain.
The furious row on BBC Question Time followed a question about whether Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU.
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Ms Blackman issued a scathing assessment of Brexit in her response, saying she was “so annoyed” by the debate.
The SNP MP said: “We are talking about how Northern Ireland is the most exciting economic zone.
“Our economic zone previously was better! We were members of the single market.
“We have a situation where Northern Ireland has a competitive advantage over Scotland, over Sunderland.
“Tom talked about the economic impact of Covid, and it is massive but the OBR said the economic impact of Brexit is twice that of Covid. Twice!
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“Graham Stuart talks about how Northern Ireland can now get sausages – but I would like some tomatoes and cucumbers.
“They are not rationing them in Spain, not rationing them in France.”
Mr Harwood hit back at this point, saying: “But they are rationing them in Ireland!
“Ireland, a member of the single market, has the same tomato shortages as we do. How do you work that one out?”
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Graham Stuart, minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, responded: “It’s always Brexit, it’s always Brexit.”
The Government and industry have blamed bad weather in Spain and North Africa for the squeeze.
Frosty temperatures in Spain, the primary supplier of British vegetables, have damaged crops.
The Spanish province of Almeria has seen tomato sales down 22 percent in the first two weeks of February, while cucumber sales fell 21 percent and pepper and eggplant sales fell 25 percent.
Tom Holder, a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, said Brexit had not exacerbated supply shortages.
He pointed out that British checks on food and fresh products imported from the European Union had not yet come into effect.
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