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Sandwich ingredients safe: Taoiseach rules out 'food stockpiling' in the case of a hard Brexit

Leo Varadkar says while the Irish government is stockpiling medicines, it has no plans to stockpile food.

The British Sandwich Association are concerns about sandwich fillings in the UK post-Brexit, but Varadkar says there are no plans to stockpile food in Ireland.
The British Sandwich Association are concerns about sandwich fillings in the UK post-Brexit, but Varadkar says there are no plans to stockpile food in Ireland.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has ruled out the need for Ireland to stockpile food in the case of a hard Brexit.

During the week, Varadkar admitted that Ireland will stockpile medicines in the coming months over concerns that supplies could dwindle in the event of a crash-out Brexit.

On Monday, the British Sandwich Association warned that there could be problems getting ingredients like tomatoes and lettuce into the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

However, while the Irish government are assessing other items, food stockpiling will not be necessary, said the Taoiseach.

“We don’t think food is going to be an issue though,” added the Taoiseach.

“The other is around oil reserves. Under European law you have to hold a certain amount of your oil reserves in other EU countries. This is all in one of the documents we produced after Derrynane. For example if that was held in the UK it would no longer be in the European Union, so there’s lot of things like that.”

Ireland can be flexible

Elaborating on Brexit issues with reporters yesterday, he said the Irish government could be “flexible” on the backstop.

The backstop, which was a bone of contention, but ultimately agreed between the EU and UK last December, provides for regulatory alignment between the Republic of Ireland and the North if there was a hard Brexit and is a last resort option to avoid customs checks and a border.

“When it comes to the backstop, our position has always been what matters is not the detailed legal text, it’s the outcome, and so what we want the backstop to achieve is a guarantee that there won’t be a hard Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland,” said the Taoiseach.

“I know the UK will say that can be achieved through the future relationship [between the UK and the EU], but it could take years to negotiate that future relationship treaty and we don’t know for sure if that future relationship treaty will be ratified because it is likely to be a mixed treaty and any one country in Europe could potentially hold it up by not ratifying it,” he said.

Northern Ireland 

On the issue of the political stalemate in Northern Ireland, Varadkar said if clarity around Brexit is provided in October, he believes there is an opportunity for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive to be up and running by the end of the year.

When asked about the issue of a border poll – something Sinn Féin has been criticised of pushing out this week – Varadkar said it is definitely not the time for one.

While he said some believe it could be a close result, having a border poll now would be “divisive and unsuccessful” in his view, particularly in the current context of Brexit and the fact no political institutions are working in the North.

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