UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The British government reluctantly published a worst-case scenario on Wednesday if the country broke away from the European Union without an agreement and said it could see trade routes with Europe and disruptions in the supply of medicines and fresh food as protests spread across Britain.
The forecasts contained in a report entitled Operation Yellow Hammer, prepared six weeks ago just days after Boris Johnson became prime minister, serve as a basis for government planning to exit without agreement.
The scenes were published at the request of lawmakers who accused Johnson’s government of concealing the devastating consequences of secession from the EU without an agreement and could intensify political accusations at a time when Britain is nearing its October 31 deadline.
The document is likely to be limited at the popular and business levels to secede without agreement, partly because of political confusion. Trucks may initially have to wait up to two and a half days to cross the English Channel.
“The supply of certain types of fresh food will be reduced. There is a risk that fear-driven buying will cause or disturb food supplies … and there will be protests and counter-protests across Britain.”
Johnson says Britain will break away from the EU on time, with or without an agreement. Last week, opposition lawmakers, who seized the power to define the parliament’s action plan, passed a law requiring Johnson to seek a delay if he did not reach an agreement with the bloc to prevent chaos.
Parliament has since been suspended and courts have issued mixed decisions on whether Johnson is entitled. The prime minister says he wants early general elections to break the impasse.
His opponents say they will not allow him to call the election until the risk of an exit without an agreement is ruled out.
The government said the document, Operation Yellow Hammer, published on Wednesday, reveals only the worst expectations and had to prepare for all emergency situations.
Minister Michael Goff, who is in charge of preparing for an exit without agreement, said the assumptions in the five-page document were under review.
The opposition Labor Party said the documents underscored the grave dangers that would accompany an exit without an agreement and called for a suspended parliament to be examined and to take the necessary decisions to prevent secession without an agreement.
The document says traffic flow through the English Channel could be reduced by up to 60 percent on the first day. The worst disturbances may be up to three months.
Car queues could affect fuel deliveries and supply disruptions in London and south-east England, and fear of buying could cause supply shortages elsewhere in the country, she said.
Financial services and information exchanges between police and security services are also likely to be affected.
Minister Goff complied with the publication of the document by MPs but rejected a separate request to publish the advice of government advisors in suspending parliament.
A Scottish court ruled on Wednesday the suspension was illegal, prompting lawmakers to return to work. Another court in England ruled that the judges had no authority to question Johnson’s decision.
Both cases will be submitted to the Supreme Court next week to decide.
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