A Remainer ‘rebel alliance’ of Tory backbenchers opposed to a No Deal Brexit has grown to as many as 40 MPs as Downing Street blamed the ring leaders for leaking a bombshell contingency planning document.
The leak of Operation Yellowhammer which details the food, medicine and fuel shortages which could arise after a chaotic split from the EU on October 31 has sparked an all-out Tory civil war.
Number 10 sources believe Mr Hammond, who quit the government before Mr Johnson could sack him over his anti-No Deal stance, or another former minister leaked the document out of revenge and in order to influence Brexit talks.
The government has insisted the doomsday dossier is out of date but the wind is now in the sails of the anti-No Deal Tory group known in Westminster as the ‘Gauke-ward squad’.
A letter sent by Mr Hammond to Boris Johnson last week was signed by 21 Tory Europhile MPs.
But their numbers have now swelled to up to 40, according to The Telegraph, in a revelation likely to cause alarm in Number 10.
The leak of the document and the growing size of the anti-No Deal grouping on the government benches came just days before Mr Johnson is due to undertake a whirlwind trip to Berlin and Paris for Brexit talks.
Mr Johnson will meet Angela Merkel on Wednesday and Emmanuel Macron on Thursday when he will tell them that the UK is serious about leaving the EU with or without a deal on October 31.
However, a growing rebellion at home – and within his own Conservative Party – is likely to be the elephant in the room during discussions.
Those meetings will come before the PM heads to Biarritz in France at the weekend for a G7 summit and his first face to face meeting with Donald Trump.
The Tory meltdown came as Jeremy Corbyn will today use a speech to accuse Mr Johnson of plotting a ‘Trump Deal Brexit’ as he signals Labour’s preparedness for an early general election.
Meanwhile, senior Tories have called on Mr Johnson to call a snap poll before MPs have the chance to defeat him in a vote of no confidence.
Boris Johnson has vowed that the UK will leave the EU on October 31, but a leaked government document warns of the dire
A group of Tory MPs opposed to a No Deal Brexit and led by former chancellor Philip Hammond, pictured in April, has now grown to as many as 40 people
The 10 weeks which will determine Britain’s Brexit fate
August 21: Boris Johnson will travel to Berlin for Brexit talks with Angela Merkel.
August 22: PM will then go to Paris for talks with Emmanuel Macron.
August 24-26: Mr Johnson will attend a G7 summit in Biarritz. Brexit is likely to feature heavily.
September 3: MPs return to the Commons after their summer break.
September 4: The earliest possible date for a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s government to take place. However, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to wait until he believes he can win before pulling the trigger so it could happen much later, potentially the start of October.
September 21-25: Labour Party conference. Activists are expected to try to force Mr Corbyn to adopt a Remain stance.
September 29-October 2: Conservative Party conference. Mr Johnson will be expected to harden his No Deal stance in the hope of pressuring the EU into deleting the backstop.
October 17-18: The next scheduled EU Council meeting and the final one before Brexit. Attempts to renegotiate a deal or ask for an extension are expected at this meeting.
October 31: The UK will leave the EU.
The growing size of the Tory ‘rebel alliance’ means Mr Johnson is almost guaranteed to lose any vote in the Commons on stopping a No Deal Brexit.
That means the PM will be keen to avoid any sort of parliamentary showdown which could give the rebels the chance to make their move – but such a moment appears inevitable at some point before the Halloween deadline.
Reports this morning suggest the group has grown substantially from the 21 MPs who signed last week’s letter with at least 10 new names added and potentially another seven on top of that.
However, many of the new members do not want their names to be made public for fear of Downing Street trying to pick them off.
One source said: ‘As things go on we will get a better idea of numbers. It should not come as any surprise that Number 10 is trying to pick people off that group on the basis that the strategy is not to go to No Deal. There are lots of back-channel conversations.’
The swelling of the Remainer ranks came after a Tory civil war exploded on Sunday night as Downing Street accused bitter ex-ministers of leaking dire No Deal warnings to sabotage Mr Johnson’s talks with Brussels.
Ahead of his debut on the world stage this week, a bombshell dossier revealed official predictions of food, fuel and medicine shortages if the Prime Minister fails to reach an agreement with the EU.
The document, under the codename Operation Yellowhammer, also warned of three months of chaos at ports, clashes with EU fishing vessels and a crisis for social care.
Downing Street claimed the forecasts were the work of the previous administration and out of date, showing a worst-case scenario.
One Number 10 source blamed former frontbenchers led by Mr Hammond for the leak.
The source said the dossier, apparently written by Cabinet Office officials, was ‘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,’ the source added.
Michael Gove, who is responsible for No Deal planning, insisted preparations had been ramped up since Mr Johnson took office
Corbyn to savage PM’s Brexit negotiating strategy in ‘pre-election speech’
Jeremy Corbyn will today accuse Boris Johnson of plotting a Donald Trump-style Brexit as the Labour leader rolls the pitch in preparation for an early general election.
Mr Corbyn will claim the Tories have undergone a ‘lurch to the hard right’ under their new leader and argue Mr Johnson is ‘driving the country towards a No Deal cliff edge’ in a speech widely seen as an attempt to set the tone ahead of a potential snap poll this winter.
There is increasing speculation in Westminster that Mr Johnson could go to the country within the next three months and senior Tories have today urged him to pull the trigger sooner rather than later to sink Remainer attempts to oust him.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory former leader, has suggested the Prime Minister should respond to demands for a no confidence vote by calling the bluff of Labour and proposing an election instead.
Such a move could avoid Mr Johnson being ousted from Number 10, make it incredibly difficult for MPs to stop No Deal and put the pressure on Labour.
The row came days after Mr Hammond, the former chancellor, broke his silence with an interview claiming that a No Deal Brexit would be just as much of a ‘betrayal’ as not leaving.
A spokesman for Mr Hammond declined to comment on whether he was behind the leak.
Mr Johnson will meet Ms Merkel and Mr Macron this week before attending the G7.
He is expected to tell his European counterparts that he is deadly serious about his ‘do or die’ commitment to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 – with or without a deal.
He will use the trips to make the case that Parliament ‘will not and cannot’ cancel the result of the 2016 referendum.
The leak of Operation Yellowhammer is likely to hang over the meetings.
The government documents leaked to the Sunday Times warned the country will face three months of chaos at ports under a No Deal Brexit, as well as a return of a hard border in Ireland.
According to the papers, petrol import tariffs would ‘inadvertently’ lead to the closure of two oil refineries, while protests could ‘require significant amounts of police resources’ in a No Deal scenario.
They also warn that Gibraltar could face delays of up to four hours at the border with Spain for ‘at least a few months’.
Michael Gove, who is responsible for No Deal planning, insisted preparations had been ramped up since Mr Johnson took office.
Mr Gove said: ‘This is an old document. Since it was published and circulated, the Government has taken significant steps to ensure that we are prepared to leave on October 31 – deal or No Deal.’
‘Any prudent government will always plan for absolutely the worst-case [scenario]. We will be making sure that everyone in the country is as prepared as they can be.
Of course, there are challenges with leaving without a deal, but there are also opportunities.’
Mr Gove said the UK would not be bringing back a hard border with Ireland, but added: ‘What the EU decides is a matter for them.’
Mr Gove mocked claims there is another secret Whitehall operation codenamed ‘Black Swan’ to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
He wrote: ‘Black Swan is not an HM Government document but a film about a ballet dancer…’
The government of Gibraltar said the documents were ‘out of date’ and based on ‘planning for worst-case scenarios’ while former ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson claimed the leak showed the ‘establishment’ plot to ‘sow fear’.
However, former head of the civil service Lord Kerslake said the dossier ‘lays bare the scale of the risks we are facing’.
From petrol shortages to ‘significant’ Channel disruption and possible RIOTS: The secret dossier’s 14 claims of chaos
1. LEAVING ON OCTOBER 31
The Halloween departure date from the EU is not ‘to our advantage’, the Yellowhammer document states.
It falls on a Thursday, meaning banks could be forced to make changes overnight, rather than over a weekend.
Friday meanwhile, marks the end of the half-term holidays for some schools so families will be returning from abroad, adding to traffic at border crossings.
2. CHANNEL PORTS
Significant disruption at ports could last for up to three months after a No Deal. The document reveals up to 85 per cent of lorries travelling through main Channel crossings ‘may not be ready’ for French customs.
It states that in a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’, the disruption could leave heavy goods vehicles facing delays of 1.5 to 2.5 days, affecting perishable goods such as foods and some medicines.
France has said it will impose mandatory EU controls on the first day of No Deal.
A line of lorries is seen during a trial between disused Manston Airport and the Port of Dover of how road will cope in case of a No Deal Brexit
3. DRUGS AND DISEASE
The supply of medicines to the UK could be badly disrupted, the document states. It adds that it will ‘not be practical to stockpile products to cover expected delays of up to six months’.
Diabetes sufferers and children with cancer are among those who could be affected. It could also be harder ‘to prevent and control disease outbreak’.
4. FOOD AND WATER
The documents warn that consumers will be hit with food shortages and price rises. Under No Deal the supply of fresh food will ‘decrease’ and supermarket shelves will have gaps.
The biggest risk is a breakdown in the supply chain of the chemicals used to treat water, which could affect ‘up to hundreds of thousands’ of people.
The documents says low-income groups will be ‘disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel’.
5. FINANCIAL SERVICES
The document states ‘some UK cross-border financial services will be disrupted’. Banks and other institutions will have to switch to new systems for reporting transactions midweek.
The City will also have to deal with dramatic shifts in the price of Sterling and other assets.
6. OUR DATA
The digital economy which sees consumers buying and selling goods on websites is underpinned by EU regulations on personal data.
As no decision has been made yet on the handling of this data, the document says it ‘could take years’ to re-establish a relationship.
Experts warn the scenario could result in a ‘data cliff edge’. The disruption could also affect bank transfers and stop data flow from the EU to Britain.
The City will also have to deal with dramatic shifts in the price of Sterling and other assets
7. PETROL SUPPLIES
Two British oil refineries could be ‘inadvertently’ put out of business by government plans to set most import tariffs at zero per cent after a No Deal.
This could lead to around 2,000 job losses and could also spark widespread strikes and disruptions to fuel availability in some areas for up to two weeks.
8. NORTHERN IRELAND
Measures to avoid a hard border in the event of No Deal are likely to prove ‘unsustainable’, the document says. It states there will be ‘no new checks with limited exceptions’ on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
But it goes on to say that although measures will be introduced to ‘avoid an immediate risk of a return to a hard border on the UK side’, this is ‘likely to prove unsustainable because of significant economic, legal and biosecurity risks and no effective mitigations to address this will be available’.
9. ENERGY SUPPLIES
Consumers in Northern Ireland face ‘significant’ energy price hikes, the document warns.
A rapid ‘split’ in the single electricity market – put in place after the Good Friday agreement – could occur ‘months or years’ after Brexit and result in ‘significant electricity and price increases for consumers’.
The supply of goods, including food, medicine and the shipment of waste will be disputed by the ‘imposition’ of checks at Gibraltar’s border with Spain.
If the UK leaves without a deal, the 15,000 workers who cross the border from Spain each day to work in Gibraltar can expect a delay of more than four hours for ‘at least a few months’.
Prolonged delays ‘are likely to adversely impact Gibraltar’s economy’, the document adds.
Two British oil refineries could be ‘inadvertently’ put out of business by government plans to set most import tariffs at zero per cent after a No Deal leading to disruptions to fuel availability
11. BRITS IN EUROPE
Embassies across the EU will be inundated with demands for help by confused nationals living on the Continent.
There will be ‘an increase in consular inquiries, with more complex and time-consuming consular assistant cases for vulnerable UK nationals’, the leaked document states.
12. PROTESTS AND POLICE
Violent protests could break out in the event of No Deal, the Yellowhammer document warns.
There ‘may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions’ as civilians deal with the shock of a No Deal departure.
Police chiefs have spent months drawing up contingency plans to respond to such unrest.
EU fishing boats could illegally sail into UK waters, causing clashes at sea and disruption at ports.
Nearly 300 foreign boats would be fishing in British waters on day one.
This would be ‘likely to cause anger and frustration in the UK catching sector’, with risk of smuggling and border violations, the document states.
14. SOCIAL CARE
Our already ‘fragile’ social care system would be hit hard by rising costs, the document warns.
In a damning assessment, it says an increase in inflation could lead to providers starting to go bust by the New Year.
It states that smaller care providers could start to feel the impact within two to three months, while larger firms would be affected four to six months down the line.