Food shortage, price rise forecast, but UK says all is well
An official assessment of the impact of leaving the European Union on October 31 without an agreement sees price rise for food and fuel, protests and counter-protests across the UK and disruption in medicine supplies, but the government says it can deal with it.
The document called Operation Yellowhammer and categorised as ‘sensitive’, was published on Wednesday night after the Boris Johnson government was forced to publish it when an opposition-sponsored motion to this effect was passed in the House of Commons this week.
Leading ministers of the Johnson government, however, insisted on Thursday that the forecast in the document is a ‘worst-case scenario’, adding that large-scale preparations were on to mitigate the impact of leaving the EU without an agreement.
A no-deal Brexit will lead to rules, regulations and laws in force over decades of the UK’s membership of the EU not in force anymore, affecting seamless movement of goods, industry supplies, trade as well as travel, among other implications.
The Johnson government acknowledges the adverse impact of a no-deal Brexit, but has insisted on keeping the option on the table to finally honour the verdict of the 2016 referendum to leave the EU. It also claims to be trying to reach an agreement with Brussels.
Labour and other parties seized upon the document dated August 2 to reiterate their demand to recall parliament, which has been controversially prorogued. Scotland’s highest civil court on Wednesday ruled the prorogation as unlawful.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald told BBC: “This is more like emergency planning for war or a natural disaster and we’re doing this voluntarily. Boris Johnson is crashing the ship against the rocks, and he’ll have a lifeboat, working people will not.”
Michael Gove, cabinet minister responsible for planning for a no-deal Brexit, said the government had taken “considerable steps”, adding that “revised assumptions” will be published “in due course alongside a document outlining the mitigations the government has put in place and intends to put in place”.
The British Retail Consortium said: “Fresh food availability will decrease, consumer choice will decrease, and prices will rise,” while the British Medical Association described the Yellowhammer file as “alarming”, adding that it confirmed the threat of medical supply shortages.