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'A few bumps in the road’: Number 10 attempts to downplay Operation Yellowhammer revelations

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to declare later that the UK is facing a Brexit ‘crisis’.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson.
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE UK GOVERNMENT has moved to downplay Operation Yellowhammer, the secret plans for a no-deal Brexit which were leaked over the weekend.

Documents prepared by the Cabinet and leaked to The Sunday Times yesterday outline the challenges the UK would face in a no-deal Brexit.

Although the Sunday Times claims that these are preparations for what would most likely happen in a no-deal, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday that this was “a worst-case scenario”.

Number 10 has pushed back against the reporting of the ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ dossier, stating that it is an older document, and insisting that steps taken since then mean the scenarios outlined are not the situation now.

However, Sky News reports that the no-deal dossier was dated 1 August and was presented to the first meeting of the Daily Operations Committee last month.

The UK’s no-deal Brexit plans predict shortages of food, fuel and medicines; if there are difficulties importing preservatives and packaging, this would also impact on food supplies.

There’s also a potential for fresh water shortages due to possible interruptions of imported water treatment chemicals.

Price hikes would also be likely for food and electricity, and the Cabinet plans note that this that could affect “vulnerable groups”.

The plans, which were drafted under Theresa May’s government, say that current measures to avoid a hard border in Ireland would be “unsustainable” which would lead to a hard border, and in turn could spark protests and road blocks.

A source quoted in The Sunday Times coverage yesterday states:

This is not Project Fear – this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.

Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal planning, reacted yesterday to the report stating that it is an “old document” that only looked at “what the very, very worst situation would be”.

While he said there “will be some bumps in the road, some element of disruption in the event of no deal”, he said preparations for a no-deal have been stepped up.

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Gove said: 

But the document that has appeared in the Sunday Times was an attempt in the past to work out what the very, very worst situation would be, so we could take steps to mitigate that.
And we have taken steps, not just to deal with some of the risks, but also to make sure that our economy and our country are better placed than ever to leave the EU on 31 October.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the document looks at what is likely to happen, rather than what might happen.
Howlin rejected Gove’s assessment that as the document is only a month old, its contents have changed because a new government is now in place.
That is absurd. The issues that are set out in black and white in this ongoing assessment are there to be faced. Unfortunately, the inescapable truth is that we’re now just over 70 days away from this becoming a reality.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to make a speech later today where he will state that the UK is facing a Brexit “crisis”, according to the BBC

Corbyn will meet other British political leaders next week to discuss tactics to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

He also is set to support calls for the House of Commons to be recalled “in the next few days” to allow MPs to debate the prospect of a no deal.

The Evening Standard newspaper reports that Philip Hammond has denied being the source of a leak of the Government’s secret no-deal Brexit planning details after Boris Johnson blamed it on a “former minister”.  

The UK government is expected to publish information about their new impact assessment of no deal in the coming weeks.

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