(Bloomberg) — The full scale of the damage a no-deal Brexit could cause to the U.K. was revealed when Boris Johnson’s government published its worse-case scenario — a document it tried to keep secret.
The paper warned of food and fuel shortages, disruption to the supply chain, public disorder and intense pressure to return to the negotiating table if the U.K. crashes out of the European Union without an agreement. The five-page summary of no-deal planning, code-named Yellowhammer, was released late Wednesday to meet a deadline forced upon the government by Parliament.
The scenario undermines Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s assertion that the U.K. can cope with a no-deal Brexit, and will further fuel his opponents’ opposition to his strategy to take the U.K. out of the EU “do or die” on Oct. 31. Parliament has already passed a law intending to prevent Johnson forcing through a no-deal Brexit, but he says he’s ready to do it anyway.
“It is completely irresponsible for the government to have tried to ignore these stark warnings and prevent the public from seeing the evidence,” the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said in an emailed statement. “Boris Johnson must now admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a no-deal Brexit.”
The documents includes the following scenarios:
- On day one, as many as 85% of trucks attempting to cross the Dover-Calais straits may not be ready for French customs — with freight recovering to 50% to 70% of pre-Brexit levels in three months
- Medicines are “particularly vulnerable” to severe extended delays; some can’t be stockpiled, and for others it’s not practical to stockpile for “expected delays of up to six months”
- Supplies of some fresh foods will decrease; there will also be reduced choice of products
- Some cross-border U.K. financial services will be disrupted
- Protests will take place nationwide, sapping up police resources
- Regional traffic disruption could affect fuel distribution
- Immediate imposition of EU tariffs will “severely disrupt” trade with Ireland, with agriculture and food the hardest-hit sector
- No-deal arrangements for Irish border will be “unsustainable” and force the U.K. back to the negotiating table in days or weeks
- There could be clashes between U.K. and EU fishing fleets
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