A hard Irish border, three-months of chaos at the ports as well as fuel, medicine and food shortages are expected in the event of a No Deal Brexit, leaked Whitehall papers show.
Operation Yellowhammer, a secret dossier filed by the Cabinet Office this month, exposes 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.
The papers, obtained by The Times, outline the possibility of protests, road blockades and ‘direct action.’
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)
Chaos is anticipated at British ports (pictured: lorries queue at Dover in March last year)
Massive tailbacks at ports could limit fuel distribution and disrupt the supply across the southeast of England, including London.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Perishable goods, including medicines and food, will be affected by lorry delays, Operation Yellowhammer reveals (pictured: Empty shelves at a supermarket)
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.