Minister claims coronavirus pandemic, not Brexit, responsible for empty Northern Ireland shop shelves

Brandon Lewis is interviewed by Niall Patterson

Brandon Lewis is interviewed by Niall Patterson - Credit: Sky News

The secretary of state for Northern Ireland Brandon Lews has denied empty shop shelves in the country are because of Brexit.

There have been calls from action from the government to resolve the trade chaos in the country following the end of the transition period which severed links between the EU and UK.

But Lewis told Sky News that the issue in shops is most likely due to the issues at Dover as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "The unfettered access was always about Northern Ireland businesses into Great Britain - yes there is.

"The flow of food and goods linked to the EU and the Northern Ireland Protocol has been good actually."

He added: "Where we've seen some images of empty shelves in Northern Ireland - although let's be clear we've seen them across the UK recently - has been linked to Covid and some of the challenges we've had at Dover due to Covid just before Christmas and the flow through the supply line of that rather than through the protocol.

"Supermarkets we've been talking to regularly have good flows of supply and that's important to Northern Ireland, being an integral part of the United Kingdom."

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