AT the weekend the Sunday Times published leaked documents which it said laid bare the gaps in government contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit. The documents predicted shortages of fuel, food and medicine, a three-month meltdown at ports, a hard border with Ireland and violent unrest.
The Operation Yellowhammer documents are said by the government to be out of date and in any case were worst-case scenarios. One section, on ports, was comprehensively rubbished by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph yesterday under the headline ‘Yellowhammer port chaos is not even Project Fear: it is slapstick.’ He quoted the Calais port chief’s verdict on the document: ‘C’est la bullsh*t.’
However as an object lesson in how to whip up fear and opposition to a no-deal Brexit, the Sunday Times effort takes some beating. For those who did not see it, here is a recap on its main headlines with summaries of the stories.
Troops and curfews among options to halt protests after no-deal Brexit
Britain should be braced for a spate of violent protests and counter-protests this autumn if the UK crashes out of the EU, according to the government’s preparations.
Up to 85% of lorries travelling to France will not be ready for new customs rules
Chaos at the border could last for up to three months after a no-deal before it eases slightly, but the flow of lorries may still be half of its current level by January.
No-deal Brexit: Irish hard border inevitable ‘within weeks’, say planners – and smuggling to return
Boris Johnson has insisted that technological solutions and a ‘can-do spirit’ will prevent a hard Irish border. But the contingency planning for no-deal prepared by his own government suggests that a hard border is all but inevitable, leading to ‘direct action’ and road blockades.
Britain’s head of counter-terrorism has warned that the UK’s security would suffer from a no-deal Brexit with the government’s contingency plans revealing that ‘enforcement data and information-sharing between UK and EU will be disrupted’.
The government has admitted that low earners will feel the pain of no-deal the most. Food bank bosses say that the damage to food supplies and price rises caused by a no-deal Brexit will affect the level of donations just as more people need help.
Gibraltar is under-prepared for a no-deal Brexit with the minister overseeing contingency planning saying it was a ‘gargantuan task’. The Yellowhammer document claims that the imposition of checks at its border with Spain will disrupt the supply of goods, including food, medicine and the shipment of waste.
British embassies in the EU are forecast to be overwhelmed with demands for help as UK nationals living on the Continent struggle with the aftershocks of no-deal.
On all these claims, I’m with the Calais port chief.