An MP has hit back at claims that she called for the threat of food shortages in Ireland to be used as a bargaining tool in the Brexit negotiations.

Witham Tory 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 had made the comments to a national newspaper after the leaking of a Government report which suggested a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could see Ireland suffer a 7 per cent drop in gross domestic product and be landed with food shortages.

Speaking to the Times back in early December, she 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.”

The comments received widespread condemnation from a number of MPs, while Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to tell Parliament she would not use the threat of a food shortage in Ireland during negotiations with EU leaders.

Following the backlash, Ms Patel last week issued a statement in order to “set the record straight” and criticise some national newspapers for misinterpreting her comments. She said: “It is disappointing 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 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 for the MP insisted Ms Patel’s comments had been 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.