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 documents 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. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it did not comment on leaked documents.
The newspaper said up to 85% 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 a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, 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 codename 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.
Asked about the Yellowhammer documents, energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News: “I think there’s a lot of scaremongering around, and a lot of people are playing into ‘Project Fear’ ... We’ve got to prepare for no deal.”
“We will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on the 31st of October.”
A group of more than 100 lawmakers wrote to Johnson calling for an emergency recall of parliament to discuss the situation.
“We face a national emergency, and parliament must now be recalled in August and sit permanently until October 31 so that the voices of the people can be heard, and that there can be proper scrutiny of your government,” the letter said.
The prime minister is coming under pressure from politicians across the political spectrum to prevent a disorderly departure, with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowing this week to bring down Johnson’s government in early September to delay Brexit.