AN MP has hit back at suggestions she called for Ireland to be threatened with food shortages in relation to Brexit negotiations.

Priti Patel has accused several news outlets of publishing “irresponsible articles” relating to comments she made about trade between the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ms Patel, who represents the Tiptree area, had made the comments to a national newspaper following the leaking of a government report which suggested a no-deal Brexit could see Ireland suffer a 7 per cent drop in GDP and landed with food shortages.

With some newspapers accusing Ms Patel of leading calls to threaten Ireland with the potential consequences of a no-deal Brexit, the former International Development Secretary has now issued a statement to “set the record straight” and slam the “reckless” actions of her critics.

She said: “It is disappointing that some media outlets have chosen to twist and distort my comments about trade with Ireland. This has caused immense anger and upset in Ireland and I know that many people who read the headlines and the stories presented to them would have been offended.

“I was also sickened by the manner in which this has been reported and the distorted way the media and others have linked my comments about trade to food shortages and famine.

“I have always been clear that I want to see positive and friendly relations between the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland based on mutual respect, co-operation and frictionless free trade.”

A spokesman added that Ms Patel’s comments were focused on the importance of the Government and the EU returning to the negotiating table to discuss ways to deliver a good deal for all parties. Speaking to the Times newspaper back in early December about reports Ireland could face a food shortage if no deal could be struck over Brexit, Ms Patel said: “This paper appears to show the government were well aware Ireland will face significant issues in a no-deal scenario.

“Why hasn’t this point been pressed home during negotiations? There is still time to go back to Brussels and get a better deal.”