UK government no-deal Brexit fears revealed in full

Multi-month delays at ports, unrest at the Irish border and rising food prices part of ‘realistic assessment’ of no deal. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

A leaked UK government report paints a grim picture of the fallout from a no-deal Brexit, from medicines shortages, multi-month slowdowns at ports and threats to clean drinking water.

Dubbed “Operation Yellowhammer,” the report prepared by the Cabinet Office and published by The Times imagines a “base scenario” on the Brexit crash-out date of October 31, marked by unprepared business, hostile EU member countries and impending cold weather that could exacerbate food and medical supply problems.

Further, the report notes the risk that “increasing EU Exit fatigue” could hamper contingency planning after the original March 29 Brexit date was postponed.

These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios — not the worst case

A person quoted in The Times as a “senior Whitehall source” said, “This is not Project Fear — this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios — not the worst case.”

The government said while it did not expect such outcomes, they were being looked at as part of no-deal preparations, according to the BBC.

Kwasi Kwarteng, an energy minister who attends Cabinet, dismissed claims in the documents as “scaremongering” during an appearance on Sky News on Sunday. “The scale and intensity” of no-deal Brexit preparations “are increasing,” said Kwarteng, formerly an official in the Brexit department, “and we will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on the 31st of October.”

Meanwhile, the government of Gibraltar said the briefings were “out of date,” adding that issues raised relating to the overseas territory had been “dealt with.”

The release comes as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands by his position that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a Brexit deal, ahead of meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron expected Wednesday and Thursday.

As MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit mull ways to stop the UK crashing out of the bloc, Johnson reportedly told conservative MPs such efforts risked undermining the UK’s negotiating strategy. “It is as plain as a pikestaff that Brussels — or the EU 27 — will simply not compromise as long as they believe there is the faintest possibility that Parliament can block Brexit on 31 October,” Johnson wrote in a letter, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The government’s no-deal plans, printed in full by The Times on Sunday, anticipate a chaotic situation emerging at the Irish border. While the UK will initially stick to its March promise to avoid most new checks, that’s “likely to prove unsustainable because of economic, legal and biosecurity risks.”

Job losses and disruption to some industries “are likely to result in protests and direct action with road blockades” around the Irish border.

On the first day of a no-deal Brexit, the flow of goods through French ports could be reduced by 40-60 percent of current levels, the plans warn, estimating that 50-85 percent of high-volume truck operators aren’t prepared for French customs checks. Even after three months, flow rates may only increase to 70 percent, “although disruption could continue much longer,” the plans state.

While the availability of drinking water is “likely to remain largely unaffected,” it remains a risk that disruptions in the availability of chemicals could affect the supply of clean water for “hundreds of thousands of people” on a localised basis.

Parts of the food supply chain — including the availability of fresh foods as well as ingredients and packaging — could also be impacted, leading to reduced choice and price rises, according to the no-deal plans.

More than 100 cross-party MPs wrote to Johnson on Saturday asking him to recall parliament from its summer break, arguing the country faces a “national emergency.”

Source: Politico