Threat to Northern Ireland’s kosher imports ‘despicable’, says Brandon Lewis

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Threat to Northern Ireland’s kosher imports ‘despicable’, says Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis said: "To have the EU effectively saying to the Jewish community you can’t source your products in your own country is a pretty despicable place to be."

Brandon Lewis
Brandon Lewis

The prospect of EU-UK trade differences causing a kosher food shortage in Northern Ireland is “despicable”, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

Brandon Lewis said the EU needed to “engage properly” with the UK’s position on trade to sort out “underlying problems” disrupting everyday life in the region.

Highlighting the risk that Belfast’s small Jewish community would be unable to import kosher food, Mr Lewis said: “To have the EU effectively saying to the Jewish community you can’t source your products in your own country is a pretty despicable place to be.

“And to not understand that an elderly, vulnerable community like that cannot travel 100 miles each way once a week to get their shopping, I think is pretty poor form. I find that disgraceful, to be frank.”

His comments came amid arguments about the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, a week after the UK unilaterally extended grace periods for importing chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without checks. The EU “took note” of the move.

Mr Lewis said: “The practice of the implementation is not working for the people of Northern Ireland. It is disrupting everyday lives of people and their communities.

“You’ve probably seen the stories around the challenges that the Jewish community’s having. This is not about unionists versus nationalists, everybody is suffering, businesses are struggling to get goods over, it’s not respecting the internal market of the UK.

“In its current state it’s not sustainable.”

He added that he had spoken to DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson about his threats to collapse Stormont over the protocol, but said the real issue was solving cross-border trade.

Mr Lewis said: “This is not about trying to find odd solutions to odd problems, it’s about solving the underlying problems creating all of these symptoms.

“I think what Jeffrey’s outlined and others across the unionist parties – and actually, to be fair, the nationalist parties in Northern Ireland have said the protocol isn’t working – but issues do need to be resolved.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: