Theresa May accused of trying to 'intimidate' MPs over warnings to change diet after no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
21st December 2018

Theresa May has been accused of trying to "intimidate" MPs into backing her Brexit deal after it emerged the Government could urge people to change their diets if the UK crashes out of the EU.

MPs will vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal next month.
PA Images

Documents revealed by The Times show that contingency plans are in place in case disruption at the UK border affects the supply of some food from the continent.

Although officials do not believe the UK will run out of food, they fear perishable items such as fruit and vegetables from the continent could become inedible if they are held up by customs checks.

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Among the options under consideration is urging Brits to "vary their diet" to cope with any disruption, the paper said.

Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "This illustrates the really grisly nature of a no-deal outcome. Quite simply, the British people would not forgive anyone responsible for it coming to pass."

But Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said the revelation was part of Downing Street's attempts to persuade MPs to back the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.

She said: "The Government will tell people to change their diets if there’s no Brexit deal as some perishable foods will be in short supply. I must have missed that on the side of the Brexit bus.

"But the important issue is this, I believe this is just a shameless demoralisation tactic. When people previously talked about the real, financial impact of Brexit we were called 'project fear' - I guess the government have put all that on steroids and called it project fact.

"This is all a political choice by the Government and not an inevitability. We don't have go for no-deal, the Prime Minister could rule that out at any point. And because Theresa May won't rule out no-deal, than the more the Government talk about this kind of stuff the more they look like they are trying to intimidate MPs into backing the Prime Minister's bad deal."

Former Labour frontbencher Owen Smith said: "A no-deal Brexit would clearly lead to shortages of food and vital medicines, and that is precisely why the Tories must not do it. 

"But nor should we be frightened into accepting Mrs May’s botched Brexit deal. There is a clear alternative. Put Brexit back to the people and see if they still want it."

PoliticsHome revealed earlier this week that the Government is no longer saying a no-deal Brexit is "unlikely" on official documents.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said it was simply a reflection of the fact that the 29 March deadline for leaving the EU is getting closer, and the Brexit deal has yet to be signed off.