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Anger after Daily Express confuses Ireland and Northern Ireland on Brexit tea caddy

By Claire McNeilly

Published 18/11/2016

Billy Dickson with his tea container, which took five months to arrive
Billy Dickson with his tea container, which took five months to arrive
Billy Dickson with his tea container, which took five months to arrive

There has been an angry reaction after a major marketing campaign by a national newspaper confused Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Readers contacted the Belfast Telegraph to complain about the Brexitfast Tea Caddy promotion in the Daily Express, while Northern Ireland's longest-serving MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has called the error "appalling".

The front of the promotional Brexitfast tea tin, which is emblazoned on both sides with small Union flags, carries the slogan: 'Vote With The Leaves, It's In The Bag.'

On the reverse side, however, there are four signposts pointing to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland - rather than Northern Ireland.

Alongside the illustration the text reads: "The British Empire was built on tea.

"Throughout history whenever difficult choices have had to be made, the British gather around the kitchen table for discussion and planning over a cup of tea.

"So put the kettle on, it's time to take the bull by the horns, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to save Great Britain."

However, that represents a second error, Northern Ireland is part of the UK - not Great Britain.

A Daily Express spokesman said: "This was an external promotion and we do apologise". Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Stewart Tipping, the man who ran the campaign in the paper, said: "I certainly meant no offence."

Belfast tour guide Billy Dickson (69), who received his caddy after a five-month wait, said the "horrendous mistake" had taken away from his enjoyment of having it.

"There was huge demand so I was pleased when mine finally arrived, but when I looked at the back of the caddy I was horrified to find that Northern Ireland was listed as Ireland," he said.

"I'm looking into ways of having it modified myself but it's really disappointing that people in England don't know the difference between Northern Ireland and Ireland."

He added: "It only cost me £5.99 in postage, otherwise I would be demanding that they reproduce it and provide me with a proper souvenir."

Sir Jeffrey said such a mistake beggared belief, adding that it was difficult to comprehend such a flagrant disregard for accuracy in a national marketing campaign. "It really appals me that some of our friends in England who trumpet their Britishness have a real lack of geographical understanding of what comprises the United Kingdom," the DUP MP said.

"A cursory glance at their passport would reveal that our country is called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and that the Republic of Ireland left the UK almost 100 years ago.

"Perhaps we should encourage history lessons for those interested in the future of our country because unless we understand where we've come from and where we are today, how can people work out where we're going in future?"

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