Food role appointment a source of shame on Brexit – First Minister

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The appointment of a minister for food supplies by the UK Government shows how “catastrophic” the Brexit process has become, according to the First Minister.

Nicola Sturgeon said such a situation should be “a source of shame” for the Conservative Party.

Her comments during First Minister’s Questions came after it emerged the UK Government has appointed David Rutley MP as the parliamentary under secretary of state for food and animal welfare.

Mr Rutley was handed the role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) earlier in September, with his responsibilities including EU exit readiness and the “food chain”.

SNP MSP Rona MacKay told the Holyrood chamber the UK Government has “quietly appointed a minister for the protection of food supplies – the first time this has happened since World War Two”.

She asked Ms Sturgeon: “Does the First Minister agree that when you are contemplating rationing it’s time to stop this Brexit madness?”

The First Minister responded: “I think this is news, actually, that would have made most people across the UK really stop in their tracks.

“The Tory stewardship of Brexit and the UK as a whole is now proving so catastrophic that they’ve had to appoint a minister for food supplies, which is the first time there’s been such a post held since World War Two.

“How has it come to this situation? It’s shameful and should be a source of shame for a long time to come to every single member of the Conservative Party.”

The SNP leader said she hopes food rationing does not happen, and continued: “I certainly agree with the question, that things are becoming so shambolic that it is time to draw a halt to this Brexit catastrophe.

“Let me tell you this, if there ever does come a day when there’s food rationing in this country because of a Tory Brexit, perhaps the first people who should be bearing the burden of that are Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Davis, Michael Gove, all of these people who perpetrated a dishonesty on the people of this country.

“Let’s see how they enjoy their Brexit bonanza.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “It is incorrect to say Minister Rutley has been appointed to Defra to handle food supply or security issues – the UK has a strong level of food security built upon a diverse range of sources of supply and will continue to be the case whether we leave the EU with or without a deal.

“Minister Rutley is taking on responsibilities previously held by other ministers, primarily animal welfare and food and drink industrial strategy.”

Mr Rutley said: “It is an honour to join the Defra ministerial team at such an important time.

“I am determined to ensure that we fully realise the opportunities of leaving the EU and deliver a smooth an orderly exit, building on the hard work and excellent efforts of my new colleagues.”

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