Priti Patel wants to starve the Irish – but the rush for passports goes on

Priti Patel, right, got the sharp edge of Nicola Sturgeon’s tongue.

By Lizzie Healey

More than 158,000 people from Northern Ireland and Britain applied for Irish passports in the first 10 months of this year.

Last year, 163,000 applications for Irish passports were received from the United Kingdom . Of those, 82,274 applications came from Northern Ireland.

The figures, from the Irish Republic’s Department of Foreign Affairs, represent a sharp increase in the volume of applications from the UK, following the June 2016 Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

British prime minister Theresa May will seek to pass a draft negotiated deal on the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU in the coming weeks, with intense political uncertainty over whether Westminster will back the deal.

Ms May faces mounting opposition within the Conservative Party from hardline Brexiteers over the text.

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the UK was “on the verge of making a historic mistake” if it voted through the draft Brexit agreement.

An then Tory MP Priti Patel suggested using possible food shortages as a bargaining chip, which attracted the sharp edge of Nicola Sturgeon’s tongue.

She blasted the “sheer moral bankruptcy” of Brexiteers, after Patel, a former Tory government minister, seemed to advocate starving the Irish as leverage in any no-deal negotiations.

Government papers leaked to the Times suggested Ireland would face food shortages and economic difficulties if the UK failed to secure an agreement with the EU.

Patel’s comments have gone down badly in Ireland.

Mark Hennessy, the news editor of the Irish Times, said Patel needed to learn a little history: “We had a man here once called Charles Trevelyan. He had lots of thoughts about the Irish and food. Perhaps someone should have a word with Priti Patel about how not to insult her friends.”

The Scottish First Minister tweeted: “The sheer moral bankruptcy of the Tory Brexiteers is on full display today.”

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