An MP has said the production of popular Christmas tipple Baileys is in jeopardy because of Brexit.

In a late night speech during a debate on the EU withdrawal bill, Labour’s Mike Gapes described the many risks there were to business on the island of Ireland because of the UK’s impending exit from the EU.

MP Mike Gapes was part of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in the late 1990s and said the ramifications of Brexit had threatened the peace accord as well as trading relations on the island.

He said: “The reality is that we have fields on both sides of the border, cows that move backwards and forwards, farmhouses that are divided and institutional structures such as the veterinary organisations.

“We have the milk that is taken from cows in the south and cows in the north, put together in the same factory, mixed together with whiskey, and comes out as Baileys, which is then marketed as an Irish whiskey derivative, and there is an all-Ireland trade arrangement on that basis. Similarly, with tourism, Northern Ireland and the Republic are promoted together globally.

“We are putting all this in jeopardy—putting it all at risk.”

He added: “We have to understand how difficult it was to get the Good Friday agreement and how not necessarily just the reality of the economics, but the symbolism of the politics will come back, and people will have to think about their differences rather than what unites them.”

The pro-European Ilford South member also stressed to the house that the DUP did not speak for the whole of Northern Ireland.

Diageo has said it believed a hard border would add to production costs outlining how it bottles its Baileys Irish Cream in Northern Ireland from milk sourced from farmers on both sides of the border.

It also owns Guinness which is produced in Dublin, sent to Belfast to be canned before heading back to the Republic for distribution. Border delays could add an extra €100 to each lorry-load of Guinness, it has said.

In a statement Diago said: “We are taking Brexit in our stride and are confident that we can manage through Brexit without any disruption to our business. 

“Diageo is one of the biggest exporters on the island of Ireland and we are doing everything we can to support trade and increase exports from these shores.  We have an integrated supply chain on the island of Ireland to produce great brands like Guinness and Baileys and we are for a solution that maintains frictionless trade and the free movement of people on the Irish border.”

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