Priti Patel says the threat of food shortages in Ireland should be used as a bargaining chip

A British MP is facing backlash, after suggesting the threat of food shortages in Ireland should be used to get rid of the Brexit backstop.

Former government minister Priti Patel made the comments after a leaked report said there could be food shortages here in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It also said the Irish economy could be hit worse than Britain.

Ms Patel told the UK Times: "The 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 the negations? There is still time to go back to Brussels and get a better deal".

Priti Patel arriving at 10 Downing Street in London in November 2017 | Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/PA Images

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald says she should withdraw the comments.

"That statement was, for obvious historical reasons, very distasteful, and insensitive and gauche.

"It also belies, really, a reckless and almost juvenile mentality."

"They're not entitled to wreck Ireland and they need to really grasp and understand that.

"And we will stand firm in defending Irish interests - and we're not about to be bullied and we're not about to be threatened by that MP or any other.

"I would hope that she would re-consider those comments and actually withdraw them from the public record.

"Not least I think they made her look silly and intemperate".

While Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the comments show "the sheer moral bankruptcy of the Tory Brexiteers".