MEDIAWATCH: No deal Brexit could spark UK civil unrest - report
No-deal Brexit risks inflating food and fuel prices, disrupting medicine supplies and sparking public disorder on Britain’s streets, according to a five-page document, which the government was forced by MPs to publish Wednesday reports The Week.
The file says it spells out “reasonable worst-case planning assumptions” under Operation Yellowhammer – the government’s plan for leaving the EU without a deal.
Its publication came after Scotland’s highest civil court found the suspension of Parliament “unlawful”.
Sky News says the papers “serve as a stark warning about the potential fallout from a no-deal Brexit” and that the challenges they outline are pretty “eye-watering”, while the BBC says it is “the first tangible, quotable, warts and all assessment of what Whitehall fears could be around the corner”.
After the release of the paperwork, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “The document is neither an impact assessment nor a prediction of what is most likely to happen.”
And The Telegraph noted: “The document, which was released following a vote in Parliament that demanded its publication, is already almost six weeks out of date, meaning it does not take into account Mr Johnson's ramped up no-deal planning in that time.”
But Labour shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the pages “confirm the severe risks of a no-deal Brexit”, adding: “Boris Johnson must now admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a no-deal Brexit.”
The document predicts that “certain types of fresh food” would be reduced along with the packaging. Although there would not be “an overall shortage of food in the UK”, availability and choice would be reduced which would “increase the price, which could impact vulnerable groups”.
There could also be increases in the price of fuel, it adds, with low-income groups “disproportionately affected”.
Turning to the risk of civil unrest, it states: “Protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource. There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.”
On the much-discussed issue of border delays, it warns: “The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold ‘unready’ HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40%-60% of current levels within one day.”
This situation could last for up to three months, it continues, adding that disruption might in fact last “significantly longer”. Lorries could face waits of between 1.5 days and 2.5 days to cross the border.
Other scenarios covered in the document are clashes between UK and EU fishing vessels and a warning that efforts to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are “likely to prove unsustainable”.