Tories urged to explain edited Yellowhammer No-Deal Brexit papers
TORY ministers are being told to come clean over a brutal Brexit document that warns of fuel, medicine and food shortages if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement.
On Monday night, MPs passed a motion in the Commons to force the UK Government to release the Yellowhammer papers assessing the potential impact of a No-Deal Brexit. The document, released to the public on Wednesday night, claimed to be a “worst-case” scenario.
However, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that a copy of the paper which had previously been shared with the Scottish Government referred to it as the “base scenario”. The five-page document is also almost identical to another “base scenario” leaked to the Sunday Times last month.
Michael Gove, the minister overseeing No-Deal planning, claimed it was “an old document”, adding that “since it was published and circulated, the Government have taken significant additional steps to ensure the UK is prepared to leave on October 31, Deal or No Deal”.
The Yellowhammer papers say crashing out of Europe on Halloween with no withdrawal agreement in place could trigger medical shortages, food price rises and major cross-channel trade delays.
At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Sturgeon said the publication of the Yellowhammer papers “lays bare for the public the horrors of a No-Deal Brexit”.
She added: “It is shocking that it has taken so long for that information to be published. In terms of Yellowhammer planning assumptions, what we have seen in the Scottish Government is what was published last night. The only difference I can confirm is in the title of the document – the version we had had the title Base Scenario, rather than Reasonable Worse Case Scenario, as appeared on the document that was published last night.
“It’s for the UK Government to explain if there is any significance to that. We have been expecting an update of that document, which was dated August 2, we haven’t yet received an update of it.”
It is understood that no timeline for the release of this document has yet been provided by the Boris Johnson’s government.
Yesterday, Tory Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the documents represented “a planning assumption about what would happen if the government didn’t act”. He also insisted work was under way to mitigate the scenarios.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said it was time for Parliament to be recalled: “It is completely irresponsible for the Government to have tried to ignore these stark warnings and prevent the public from seeing the evidence.
“Boris Johnson must now admit he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a No-Deal Brexit. It is also now more important than ever that Parliament is recalled and has the opportunity to scrutinise these documents and take all steps necessary to stop No Deal.”
Among 20 “key planning assumptions”, the document says protests and counter-protests could take place across the UK. These demonstrations, the Brexit preparation report warns, “may absorb significant amounts of police resource.” The document continues on explained that “there may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions”.
The report also says “there are likely to be significant electricity price increases for consumers, with associated wider economic and political impacts.”
Furthermore, “low-income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel”, the document warns.
On the potential of food shortages, the report says some fresh supplies will decrease and that “critical dependencies for the food chain” may “be in shorter supply” but that “will reduce the availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups”.
Reassuringly, the papers say the risk to water supplies is low.
The document says UK citizens travelling to and from the EU “may be subject to increased immigration checks at EU border posts”. It warns: “This may lead to passenger delays at St Pancras, Cheriton (Channel Tunnel) and Dover where juxtaposed controls are in place.
“Dependent on the plans EU member states put in place to cope with these increased checks, it is likely delays will occur for UK arrivals and departures at EU airports and ports. This could cause some disruption on transport services.”