Number 10 blames Philip Hammond’s camp for leaking dossierAugust 18, 2019
Die-hard Remainer Philip Hammond’s camp is blamed for leaking Project Fear 2.0 dossier as its predictions of No Deal Brexit chaos on October 31 are dismissed as ‘not believable’ and ‘scaremongering’
- A secret Whitehall dossier outlines possible pandemonium in a No Deal Brexit
- Operation Yellowhammer casts a dark shadow over proposed October 31 exit
- Hard border in Ireland, fuel, medicine and food shortages are anticipated
- News comes as Boris Johnson prepares to meet EU leaders at the G7 this week
- Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said fears around no deal was ‘scaremongering’
- MP Iain Duncan Smith said the leak of documents was designed to ‘sow fear’
- Brexiteer Nigel Farage said the document was so extreme it was not believable
Downing Street has blamed Philip Hammond’s camp for leaking a secret Whitehall dossier warning of the chaos of a no-deal Brexit, that has been dismissed by a government minister as ‘scaremongering.’
The document filed by the Cabinet Office, called Operation Yellowhammer, shows the areas that could be most vulnerable if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.
The explosive revelations marked ‘official-sensitive’ include the expectation of a return of a hard border in Ireland due to the inability to roll-out the government’s proposed limited checks, and shortages of fuel, medicine and food.
No.10 has now hit back and claimed the document was leaked by a former minister, with reports suggesting they are blaming Philip Hammond’s team, which includes dozens of advisers and associates.
The ex-Chancellor quit the cabinet before Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and has become a leading opponent of no-deal Brexit.
A Downing Street source said: ‘This document is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available. It has been deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders.
‘Those obstructing preparation are no longer in Government, £2 billion of extra funding already made available and Whitehall has been stood up to actually do the work through the daily ministerial meetings. The entire posture of Government has changed.’
The government has also played down concerns arising from the documents, with business and energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng describing the release of them as ‘scaremongering.’
Appearing on Ridge on Sunday today, energy minister Mr Kwarteng said the government will be ‘fully prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.’
He said: ‘I think there is a lot of scaremongering around, and a lot of people are playing into project fear and all the rest of it.
‘We’ve got to prepare for no deal, in fact the previous Prime Minister created DExEU (Department for Exiting the European Union) and said the mandate of DExEU last summer was to prepare for no deal, that’s what we were focused on.
‘Now we have a new Prime Minister focused on that and the scale and intensity of those preparations are increasing and we will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.’
Boris Johnson is preparing to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, but Downing Street continues to downplay hopes of an eleventh hour deal with the EU (pictured: the PM during a meeting at No 10 last week)
The leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier says that preventing a return of a hard border in Northern Ireland could prove ‘unsustainable’ (pictured: the border at Ballyconnel, Ireland)
Michael Gove also commented on the leak saying Yellowhammer is a ‘worst case scenario’
The papers, obtained by The Times, outline the possibility of protests, road blockades and ‘direct action.’
Former Tory former cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson claimed the leak of documents on ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ was an example of the ‘establishment’ plot to ‘sow fear in people’s minds’.
In a joint statement, they said: ‘This Operation Yellowhammer leak is the version of what the contingency executive put together. We remember attending a briefing on privy council terms which they said was not worst case but reasonable worst case. Theresa May had asked for this to be done. It was obviously Project Fear dressed up.
‘For example, on the delays at the port we asked if they had discussed their expectation with the port authorities of Calais/Pas du Nord who had already said that there would be no extra delays at Calais and they said, (after a great deal of shuffling of feet) ‘no’.
‘We asked why not and they said they had not been asked to do so. There were other areas where it was clear they had not been asked to get balance but instead dress up previous versions of other worst-case scenarios.
‘The whole thing was an attempt to frighten us and didn’t stand up to scrutiny. We have never seen officials look so uneasy under questioning.
‘The fact that this document was ‘found’ in a Westminster pub tells you all you need to know about this continuing establishment plot to sow fear in people’s minds. This is an abuse of the proper use of the Civil Service and must be stopped.’
And ardent Brexiteer Nigel Farage described said the report was ‘so extreme in terms of its scaremongering it’s not believable, at all.’
He said: ‘What do I make of all this, I don’t think this is really a government document at all, I think it’s a civil service document, I call it an Olly Robbins special.’
Chaos is anticipated at British ports (pictured: lorries queue at Dover in March last year)
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng, pictured in Westminster last week, dismissed concerns of a no deal Brexit
The leaked document suggests massive tailbacks at ports could limit fuel distribution and disrupt the supply across the southeast of England, including London.
Government cannot close down Parliament to allow no-deal Brexit, claims campaigner
Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller has claimed the Government ‘unequivocally’ accepts that it cannot close down Parliament to allow a no-deal Brexit.
The businesswoman, who last month wrote to Boris Johnson arguing any move to prorogue Parliament ‘would be an abuse of his powers’ and would result in legal action, said she had been reassured Parliament would not be suspended.
Ms Miller previously went to court and won the right for Parliament to give its consent ahead of the Government triggering Article 50 to begin the Brexit process.
She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘What they have said is unequivocally they accept that to close down Parliament to bypass them in terms of Brexit – stopping a no-deal Brexit in particular – is illegal.
‘So without having to go to court they’ve conceded we’ve basically called their bluff.’
But Ms Miller said that whilst the Government had given a reassurance that Parliament will not be prorogued, she said she would be seeking further reassurance that MPs would be able to pass legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit.
She said: ‘At the moment Parliament has to find a way – instruments and ways – of ensuring that they can pass that legislation, scrutinising which is what the Government letter has confirmed, that Parliament will be able to scrutinise and examine all options when it comes to exiting, it’s not the same as giving them the ability to pass legislation.
‘And because we already have in legislation that October 31 is our exit they need to pass other legislation to prevent no-deal or to change that date after an extension.’
As many as 85% of lorries headed to France could be hit with delays of 60 hours and it could take up to three months before the flow of traffic reaches 75% of current levels.
Fresh food supply will plummet, leading to increased prices and less variety, while fishing vessels could clash, as nearly 300 foreign ships are anticipated to cast their nets illegally in British waters on the first day of Brexit.
The document says that the supply of fresh food will ‘decrease’ and supermarket shelves could well have gaps, with shoppers unable to buy some things.
The Prime Minister joked in the leadership contest there would still be clean drinking water in the event of Britain crashing out on no deal
But the document says the biggest risk to the food industry will be a dearth in chemicals used to treat water.
The chances of this happening are ‘low’, but if it does occur could impact hundreds of thousands of people.
Medical supplies will also be ‘vulnerable to severe extended delays,’ The Times reports, because three-quarters of British supplies come from the EU.
A senior Whitehall source told the paper: ‘This is not Project Fear – this is the mnost realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.’
Meanwhile, civil servants have warned that massive protests throughout the country will stretch police.
Financial services could also be ‘disrupted’, which could have significant consequences for the economy given the industry contributed £132 billion last year.
The city faces two main obstacles, firstly fluctuations in the price of sterling and also the leaving date which is on a Thursday.
This means banks and financial services will have to switch to a new system for reporting transactions mid-week. But the sector is understood to be one of the more prepared for a no deal.
The news comes as Boris Johnson signalled he would plough ahead with Brexit before calling a general election, even if a no confidence vote succeeded when parliament returns in September.
Perishable goods, including medicines and food, will be affected by lorry delays, Operation Yellowhammer reveals (pictured: Empty shelves at a supermarket)
Leaked details of Operation Yellowhammer, which first became known of last September, illustrates mounting discontent in Whitehall over the government’s lack of clarity on its Brexit plans.
Mr Johnson will this week tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Westminster cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one.
But Downing Street doesn’t believe an eleventh hour compromise is possible, saying that No Deal remains ‘highly likely.’
Among the bleakest predictions in the secret papers, are for patients with diabetes and children with cancer.
Medicines including insulin, flu vaccines and new leukaemia drugs require temperature-controlled transportation and delays at the ports could render many unusable.
The dossier seen by the Times warns that a No Deal Brexit would pose problems ‘to preventing and controlling disease outbreaks.’
Britain is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Mr Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on October 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce.
The leaked documents paint a bleak picture, with much of the southeast of England affected by fuel shortages (pictured: a fuel station in West Bromwich)
After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Mr Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed in November.
The PM 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 Mr Johnson’s government in early September to delay Brexit.
It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the British parliament to prevent a No Deal departure – likely to be the United Kingdom’s most significant move since World War Two.
Opponents of No Deal say it would be a disaster for one of the EU’s most stable democracies.
A disorderly divorce, they say, would hurt global growth, send shock waves through financial markets and weaken London’s claim to be the world’s preeminent financial centre.
Brexit supporters say there may be short-term disruption from No Deal exit but that the economy will thrive if cut free from what they cast as a doomed experiment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States.
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