UK faces food, fuel, drug shortages in no-deal Brexit: Leaked file

Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, according to leaked official documents reported by the Sunday Times.

LONDON • 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 papers leaked to the Sunday Times show.

The Times said the forecasts compiled by the Cabinet Office set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than the worst-case scenarios.

They said up to 85 per cent of lorries using the main channel crossings "may not be ready" for French Customs, meaning disruption at ports would potentially last up to three months before the flow of traffic improves.

The government also believes that a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland will be likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable, the Times said.

"Compiled this month by the Cabinet Office under the code name 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," the paper said.

The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly vowed the country will leave the bloc on Oct 31 without a deal unless the EU agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce.

After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Mr Johnson's predecessor, Mrs Theresa May, agreed to last November.

COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT

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.

THE SUNDAY TIMES , in a report on the secret government dossier.

Mr Johnson is coming under pressure from politicians to prevent a disorderly departure.

Brexit supporters say there may be short-term disruption from a no-deal exit, but that the economy will thrive if cut free from what they cast as a doomed experiment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2019, with the headline 'UK faces food, fuel, drug shortages in no-deal Brexit: Leaked file'. Print Edition | Subscribe