Leaked Brexit documents show UK's lack of preparedness

The country will face food, fuel and drugs shortages in no-deal scenario, official government documents show

Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, jamming ports and requiring a hard border in Ireland, official government documents leaked to the Sunday Times show.

According to the Times the forecasts compiled by the Cabinet Office set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than the worst case scenarios. The newspaper said up to 85% of trucks using the main channel crossings “may not be ready” for French customs, meaning disruption at ports would potentially last up to three months before traffic flow improves to 50-70% of the current rate. The government also believes a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU Member State, will be likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable and will lead to protests.

In addition,the dossier says leaving the EU without a deal could also lead to fresh food becoming less available and prices rising; fuel becoming less available and 2,000 jobs being lost if the government sets petrol import tariffs to 0%, potentially causing the closure of two oil refineries; UK patients having to wait longer for medicines, including insulin and flu vaccine and passengers being delayed at EU airports, Eurotunnel and Dover.

“Compiled this month by the Cabinet Office under the codename Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier offers a rare glimpse into the covert planning being carried out by the government to avert a catastrophic collapse in the nation’s infrastructure,” the Times reported.

“The file, marked “official-sensitive” - requiring security clearance on a “need to know” basis - is remarkable because it gives the most comprehensive assessment of the UK’s readiness for a no-deal Brexit.”

In response to the news, Michael Gove, the minister in charge of coordinating preparations for leaving the European Union without a deal, said that those leaked British government documents are only based on a worst-case scenario,

“Yellowhammer is a worst-case scenario - v significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning,” Gove wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it would not comment on leaked documents.

The leak comes as he prepares to travel to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, before going to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday. Johnson is expected to say Parliament cannot and will not change the outcome of the 2016 referendum and insist there must be a new deal to replace May's withdrawal agreement - defeated three times by MPs - if the UK is to leave the EU with a deal. However, it is thought their discussions will chiefly focus on issues such as foreign policy, security, trade and the environment, ahead of the G7 summit next weekend.

The United Kingdom is heading toward a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on 31 October without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce. After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has now repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed in November.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Twitter he had signed a piece of legislation which set in stone the repeal of the 1972 European Communities act - the laws which made Britain a member of the organisation now known as the EU. Though his move was largely procedural, in line with previously approved laws, Barclay said in a statement: “This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back (from Brexit).”

A group of more than 100 lawmakers wrote to Johnson calling for an emergency recall of parliament to discuss the situation.

“We face a national emergency, and parliament must now be recalled in August and sit permanently until 31 October so that the voices of the people can be heard, and that there can be proper scrutiny of your government,” the letter said.

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