SCOTLAND Office minister David Duguid was criticised yesterday after he insisted that the only inconvenience facing shoppers in the event of a No-Deal Brexit would be over “the specific shape of pasta” available in the shops.
The bizarre comment came as the UK’s supermarkets confirmed they were stockpiling food and other goods after Tory ministers warned that a No-Deal Brexit is now likely.
Producers have warned there will be shortages of vegetables for three months and emergency planners predict that No Deal could spark another round of the panic-buying seen during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
A senior consultant to one of the biggest supermarkets told the Sunday Times: “There was a conversation a week ago when ministers said prepare for No Deal. This weekend the message is that it’s No Deal.
“Supermarkets and ministers are hugely worried about panic-buying. They saw what happened over Covid when people started hoarding toilet rolls and know how quickly it can
“That will be nothing compared to what will happen. Meat supplies will be fine and fruit comes from South America but there are likely to be shortages of vegetables for three months.”
There were long queues of lorries outside Dover yesterday, which hauliers blamed on “stock-building”. On Friday there were 10-mile tailbacks in Calais on the other side of the Channel.
Asked about the reports on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Duguid said: “Well I mean I can’t comment on what the Sunday Times are saying on something that I don’t recognise. There is a lot of scaremongering going around not least by the SNP and others.”
Asked to guarantee no shortages in the event of a No-Deal, the MP for Banff and Buchan said: “Well, I’m not going to guarantee anything that’s hypothetical.”
He added: “You may not get the specific shape of pasta you like but there will not be the kind of shortages that I think is being reported.”
Responding to the comments, the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard said: “The Scottish Tories are used to getting in hot water, but boiling the life-changing devastation of a No-Deal Brexit down to the shape of pasta is a ridiculous Tory distraction tactic.
“Successive Tory Prime Ministers have completely mishandled Brexit negotiations over the last four years and any Brexit outcome will be bad for Scotland. The crippling uncertainty they have caused is felt even more profoundly in the middle of a pandemic and a recession.”
Donald Macaskill, the head of Scottish Care, wasn’t convinced by Duguid either. Taking to social media, with tongue firmly in cheek, he tweeted: “Listening to @BBCScotland to #politicsscotland with @BBCGaryR this morning I’m reassured listening to @david_duguid that the only impact of a #NoDealBrexit will be that I won’t get the shape of pasta I want – I’ll pass that on to anxious #socialcare providers.”
Emma Ritch, the head of Engender tweeted: “‘Let them eat penne’ seems a pretty callous response to the prospect of food shortages. Food banks are already oversubscribed. If scarcity and tariffs drive prices up then people, especially women, will go hungry.”
Economist Laurie Macfarlane tweeted: “Goodbye rigatoni, hello spaghetti hoops.”
The Sunday Times also reported that medical suppliers have been told to stockpile six weeks worth of supply at secure locations.
However, Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said there was nothing to worry about.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Well of course, with things like vaccines and more generally medical supplies the NHS and DHSC already have a widespread programme of stockpiling and security of supply.
“So I actually think – you know, there may be shifts – but we’ve got enough diversity of supply.”