A minister has finally accepted that Brexit has contributed to shortages on supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland.
International trade secretary Liz Truss acknowledged that Brexit had caused issues while appearing on the Peston programme, but claimed that “predictions of armageddon” had not happened.
Ireland’s foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney denied the government’s original assertion that Covid-19 was to blame.
He said: “I don’t think it’s only to do with Covid-19, though certainly, that doesn’t help.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains. So that’s clearly a Brexit issue and it’s part of the reality of the United Kingdom now being outside not only the European Union but of the customs union and the single market as well.
“Northern Ireland of course has special treatment and we’ve made a huge effort to try and minimise those checks and that disruption but nevertheless it’s there and very real.”
Asked about the government defence, Truss said: “Well I think it’s down to both of those issues”.
“We were always clear that we are leaving the single market, we are leaving the customs union, there would be processes to be undertaken.”
But she said that “predictions of armageddon” over Brexit “simply haven’t happened” and that “we’re now seeing a more rapid flow of goods into Northern Ireland and those supermarket shelves are being stocked”.
“Of course there was always going to be a period of adjustment for businesses,” she added.