British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government tried to keep secret a paper that warns of food and fuel shortages, job losses, public disorder and other damage as a possible worst-case scenario should the United Kingdom crash out of the european Union without a deal.
Johnson has long advocated for a no-deal Brexit and suspended Parliament last week following a series of actions aimed at thwarting the rookie prime minister.
“It’s completely irresponsible for the government to have tried to ignore these stark warnings and prevent the public from seeing the evidence,” the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “Boris Johnson must now admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a no-deal Brexit.”
The Operation Yellowhammer paper undermines Johnson’s statements that the U.K. can cope with a hard exit Oct. 31 and fuels opposition efforts to seek a delay and possible redo of the 2016 referendum that resulted in the crisis. It presents “reasonable worst-case planning assumptions.” Before Parliament was suspended, it passed a measure Johnson has said he will ignore that blocks a no-deal Brexit. It also thwarted Johnson’s efforts to call an election.
The paper predicts backups at Dover-Calais; delays in the delivery of medicines, some of which cannot be stockpiled; reduction in fresh food supplies; possible water problems; disruption of some cross-border financial services; nationwide protests; fuel shortages; imposition of tariffs that could disrupt trade with Ireland, having an especially severe impact on agricultural products; questions about the Irish border, and clashes between U.K. and EU fishing fleets.
The document initially was leaked to the Sunday Times.
Part of the document dealing with the impact on oil refineries was redacted. Tariffs are expected to make U.K. gasoline exports too expensive and likely will result in the loss of 2,000 jobs at refineries, resulting in strikes and fuel shortages.
In the latest blow to Johnson’s plans, a panel of Scottish judges Wednesday declared his suspension of Parliament illegal. Johnson has denied lying to the queen about the suspension and his government is resisting calls that he release communications with his senior advisers about the decision. He also pledged to appeal the court decision and is refusing to bring Parliament back before the Supreme Court acts.
Parliament currently is scheduled to return a scant two weeks before the Brexit deadline and just days before Johnson is scheduled to meet with EU negotiators.
An assessment released Thursday by the Brookings Institution predicts a slowdown in the British economy as a result of Brexit and a drop in investments. Productivity also is expected to plummet.