Operation Yellowhammer documents revealing the Government’s No Deal Brexit Planning have been released by Downing Street on Wednesday – but Boris Johnson has refused to hand over key aides’ emails and texts about suspending Parliament.
The prime minister refused to comply with a Commons demand to make public personal messages from special advisers regarding the controversial five week prorogation of Parliament.
But the government did release redacted versions of the Operation Yellowhammer documents connected to no-deal Brexit planning, in response to MPs voting for it to happen.
The newly released government dossier of ‘worst case planning assumptions’ says a no deal Brexit would lead to delays in medicine, illegal fishing boats, public disorder, delays at the border and rising food prices for those on the lowest incomes.
When most of the documents were leaked earlier this year, civil servants faced accusations of ‘scaremongering’.
Contrary to earlier reports and concerns, no food shortages are predicted but a reduction in the ‘availability and choice of products’ is predicted if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Despite this, the document, which features 20 ‘key planning assumptions’ – one of which is partially redacted – reveal some very real concerns over a no deal exit including electricity price increases, delays to medicine imports, protests across the UK and disruption to the fibioreportscial services sector.
In a letter to Dominic Grieve, Michael Gove said the request for communications from key aides – such as Dominic Cummings – to prorogue Parliament was ‘unprecedented, inappropriate and disproportionate.’
Mr Gove added that ‘to name individuals without any regard to their rights or the consequences goes beyond any reasonable right of parliament.’
Scroll down to read the papers in full
Redacted versions of the documents connected to no-deal Brexit planning have now been published by No10
The government was forced to release redacted versions of the documents connected to no-deal Brexit planning have now been published by No10, in response to MPs voting for it to happen
The newly released government dossier of ‘worst case planning assumptions’ says a no deal Brexit would lead to delays in medicine, shortages of certain foods, illegal fishing boats, public disorder, delays at the border and rising food prices for those on the lowest incomes
The newly released government dossier, features 20 ‘key planning assumptions’ and there is one which is partially redacted
Yellowhammer: what ARE civil servants’ ‘reasonable worst-case’ predictions for a No Deal Brexit?
Freight: Vehicles are likely to be delayed for up to two and a half days at Dover causing miles of tailbacks. On day one of no-deal, up to 85 per cent of HGVs may not be ready for French customs, reducing the ‘flow rate’ to by up to 60 per cent. Fuel supplies across the South Eats could be affected.
Medicines: Three quarters of UK medicines enter the country via Kent ports and some have very short shelf lives and cannot be stockpiled. Up to 40 per cent of supplies could be disrupted on day one.
Disease: Medicine shortages for animals could limit the ability to prevent and control disease, leading to outbreaks of illnesses that spread from animals to humans, including swine flu, salmonella and potentially even ebola and rabies.
Poverty: A decrease in supply will lead to an increase in price for food and fuel, which will disproportionately impact those on lowest incomes.
Fishing: Almost 300 European fishing ships could enter UK waters illegally on day one and clashes between British fisherman and their foreign counterparts are expected. Smuggling and illegal migration could rise.
Oil: This paragraph was redacted in the official report but a copy of Yellowhammer was leaked to the Times recently which reported its contents. It said EU tariffs will make petrol exports uncompetitive. The British government’s policy of setting petrol import tariffs at 0 per cent will lead to the closure of two UK refineries and the loss of 2,000 jobs. Strike action over job losses is expected to lead to up to two weeks of fuel shortages in the regions supplied by those refineries.
Social care: An increase in inflation after a no-deal Brexit would leave many providers unable to pay higher staff and supply costs. Smaller providers are expected to fail within three months, larger ones within six.
Gibraltar: Customs checks with Spain will cause disruptions of goods, food, medicines, waste shipments for four hours or more ‘for at least a few months’
The newly released government dossier, features 20 ‘key planning assumptions’ and there is one which is partially redacted.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘These documents confirm the severe risks of a no-deal Brexit, which Labour has worked so hard to block.
‘It is completely irresponsible for the Government to have tried to ignore these stark warnings and prevent the public from seeing the evidence.
‘Boris Johnson must now admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a no-deal Brexit.
‘It is also now more important than ever that Parliament is recalled and has the opportunity to scrutinise these documents and take all steps necessary to stop no deal.’
And former education minister Sam Gyimah – one of 21 Tory rebels who had the whip withdrawn – tweeted: ‘The leaked document wasn’t out of date. This isn’t project fear.
‘It is a sober assessment of what could happen. No-deal is not ‘vanishingly inexpensive’ or a ‘bump in the road’. This is only a part of the chaos and long-term damage our country would suffer. We must stop this.’
And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: ‘Official government documents confirm Boris Johnson is prepared to punish those who can least afford it with a No Deal Brexit to benefit his wealthy friends.
‘He must be stopped.’
But Brexiteer Nigel Farage, in an appearance on ITV’s Peston on Wednesday, dismissed fears of food shortages as ‘complete and utter rubbish.’
He said: ‘I’ve never seen utter tosh in my entire life, unlike these civil servants sitting in Whitehall I spent 20 years in international trade, buying and selling goods, and shipping them all over the world.
‘The idea given that there are over 100 active ports in the United Kingdom, that even if there was a problem at Dover there would be food shortages, is complete and utter rubbish.
‘It’s Project Fear Mark II, and it should be utterly, totally, completely disregarded.’
SNP MP Joanna Cherry, pictured centre in Edinburgh today, described the ruling as ‘historic’ and ‘fantastic’
Retail experts say ‘a damaging, no-deal Brexit is in no-one’s interests’
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘The Yellowhammer document confirms what retailers have been saying for the last three years – fresh food availability will decrease, consumer choice will decrease, and prices will rise.
‘This isn’t good for the British public and this isn’t good for British retailers.
‘A no-deal Brexit in November represents the worst possible timing for the retail industry and the consumers it serves.
‘Warehousing availability will be limited as retailers prepare for Black Friday and Christmas, many fresh fruit and vegetables will be out of season in the UK, and imports will be hampered by disruption through the Channel Straits that could reduce flow by up to 60% for up to three months.
‘While retailers are doing all they can to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, it is impossible to completely mitigate the negative impact it would have – something the Government itself has acknowledged.
‘The fact remains that a damaging, no-deal Brexit is in no-one’s interests and it is vital that a solution is found, and fast, that ensures frictionless tariff-free trade with the EU after our departure.’
The lack of additional information puts No10 on a collision course with Remainer MPs after they demanded access to personal phones in a bid to prove Boris Johnson suspended Parliament to avoid Brexit scrutiny.
MPs voted by 311 to 302 in favour on Monday of telling Number 10 advisers to hand over WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages and for ministers to release their No Deal contingency plans in full.
The MPs, led by former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, set a deadline for the material to be surrendered by 11pm yesterday.
But the refusal to do so, is likely to cause a backlash from Remainer MPs such as Dominic Grieve and Hilary Benn.
The document was released following a Commons motion put down by the former Tory attorney general.
In the letter to Mr Grieve on Wednesday, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who is overseeing no-deal planning, said the document detailed a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’.
Mr Gove said the Government was opposed to releasing electronic communications issued by named civil servants and Government special advisers regarding the suspension of Parliament as outlined in the Commons motion.
The Minister said: ‘To name individuals without any regard for their rights or the consequences of doing so goes far beyond any reasonable right of Parliament under this procedure.
‘It offends against basic principles of fairness and the civil service duty of care towards its employees.’
The Grieve motion listed key individuals in Mr Johnson’s Government, including senior adviser Dominic Cummings and director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa.
Yesterday evening Dominic Grieve said: ‘Even a partial release of the Yellowhammer documents is enough to show how deep the damage a no-deal exit from the EU would do.
‘Boris Johnson cannot portray forcing an undemocratic no-deal on the country as patriotic. On the contrary it would be deeply damaging to our economic interests and to social cohesion.
‘As a One Nation Conservative I am deeply fearful of the long-term damage a reckless approach – which knowingly risks prosperity, increases poverty and even threatens medical supplies – will do to both the people and our party. This must be stopped.
‘As we cannot trust Boris Johnson to halt this calamity, we must trust the people. We must give the public the final say in a new referendum with the option of keeping our current deal as members of the EU.’
Boris Johnson (pictured in London yesterday) suffered another setback as Scottish judges ruled his suspension of Parliament is unlawful. The case is expected to be appealed further at the Supreme Court
It comes on the same day an Edinburgh court decided that prorogation was unlawful because the Prime Minister’s intention had been to ‘stymy’ scrutiny of his Brexit policy – not to pave the way for a new legislative programme as he claimed.
Could Boris Johnson be forced to recall MPs?
Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks at a key pre-Brexit time for the country followed a well-trodden constitutional path.
The decision to shut down the legislature is ultimately taken by the Queen, but on the advice of the prime minister of the day and the Privy Council.
The monarch spoke with Mr Johnson by telephone before Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg flew to Balmoral at the end of August to present the Government’s plan in person.
She gave the Government a short window in which to carry out the prorogation and the decision was taken to enact it on Monday, after Boris Johnson made one last (failed) attempt to convince MPs to back his plea for a general election in October.
The pageantry involved led to chaotic scenes in the Commons in the early hours of Tuesday when opposition MPs tried to stop Speaker John Bercow accompanying Black Rod to the Lords, where the proclamation was read out and officially enacted.
Today’s decision in Scotland is unlikely to change anything immediately, despite calls for the doors of Parliament to be reopened today.
But the decision of the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday would carry full political and legal weight.
As the court of last resort, if it upholds the ruling that Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen was unlawful it would effectively declare the shutdown null and void.
It is unclear exactly what would happen next – as Parliament would resume sitting, but the Government has not tabled any business.
The shock outcome in Edinburgh sets the stage for a titanic showdown at the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday – with the risk that the Queen will be dragged into the constitutional crisis.
As Westminster descended into chaos, Remainers claimed Mr Johnson had ‘deceived’ the monarch and the prorogation of Parliament for five weeks – which happened in the early hours of yesterday morning by Royal proclamation – was now null and void.
There was more fury after a No10 source reportedly swiped that the Scottish courts had been ‘chosen for a reason’, with Nicola Sturgeon slamming the jibe as ‘pitiful’ and undermining the rule of law.
Attorney General Robert Buckland tried to calm the row by tweeting that he had ‘total confidence’ in the independence of judges, while the PM’s official spokesman repeated the message.
As MPs demanded the Houses be recalled ‘immediately’, some staged protests by tweeting selfies of themselves sitting in the Commons chamber.
Rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve said Mr Johnson must resign if he misled the Queen about his motives, while Labour’s David Lammy accused him of ‘deceiving’ the monarch.
Meanwhile, union baron Len McCluskey made the extraordinary suggestion that Mr Johnson should be put under ‘citizens arrest’.
Downing Street denied that the PM had misled the Queen. Pressed repeatedly by journalists on the allegation, a spokesman said: ‘I think I am fairly clear that the reasons for prorogation have been consistent throughout.’
No10 sources insisted Parliament will stay prorogued until the Supreme Court rules next week, and suggested another Royal Proclamation will be needed for MPs to start sitting again before the currently slated date of October 14.
Judge Lord Doherty dismissed a challenge against the planned prorogation at the Court of Session last Wednesday, saying it is for politicians and not the courts to decide.
What happens next in the Brexit crisis?
Here is how the coming weeks could pan out:
September 14-17: Lib Dem conference takes place in Bournemouth
September 17: Supreme Court hears case on whether prorogation of Parliament was illegal.
September 21-25: Labour conference in Brighton
September 29-October 2: Tory conference takes place in Manchester, with Mr Johnson giving his first keynote speech as leader on the final day. This will be a crucial waypointer on how Brexit talks are going.
October 14: Unless it has already been recalled following the court battle, Parliament is due to return with the Queen’s Speech – the day before Mr Johnson had hoped to hold a snap election.
October 17-18: A crunch EU summit in Brussels, where Mr Johnson has vowed he will try to get a Brexit deal despite Remainers ‘wrecking’ his negotiating position.
October 19: If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal.
October 21: Decisive votes on the Queen’s Speech, which could pave the way for a confidence vote.
October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU.
November/December: An election looks inevitable, but Labour is hinting it might push the date back towards Christmas to humiliate the PM.
But a panel of three judges in Edinburgh overturned that decision.
A summary of the judgement said: ‘The Inner House of the Court of Session has ruled that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen that the United Kingdom Parliament should be prorogued from a day between 9 and 12 September until 14 October was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament.
‘All three first division judges have decided that the PM’s advice to the HM the Queen is justiciable, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful.
‘The court will accordingly make an order declaring that the prime minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.’
At the hearing, Judge Lord Carloway told the court: ‘We are of the opinion that the advice given by the Government to her majesty the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful and that the prorogation itself was unlawful.’
A UK Government spokesman said: ‘We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
‘The UK Government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.’
The case is now set for the Supreme Court in London where it is expected to be heard alongside a similar case brought by campaigner Gina Miller.
That challenge was rejected by the High Court last week – but judges gave permission for it to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
In an incendiary jibe, one No10 source told the Sun: ‘We note that last week the High Court in London did not rule that prorogation was unlawful.
‘The legal activists choose the Scottish courts for a reason.’
The remark was quickly disowned by the PM’s aides, but SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘This is pitiful, pathetic and desperate from No10.’
Operation Yellowhammer ‘No Deal’ Brexit planning documents say there will NOT be food shortages – but prices will go up, two-day queues at the channel will last three months and fibioreportscial services will be hit
by James Wood
The Government has published its Operation Yellowhammer ‘reasonable worst case planning assumptions’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and they reveal there will NOT be food shortages.
Redacted versions of the document released this evening outline how the country might be affected by a sudden departure from the European Union, and when they were leaked earlier this year faced accusations of ‘scaremongering’.
But the document released today shows there won’t be food shortages in the event of a no deal exit from the European Union contrary to earlier fears, but instead a reduction in the ‘availability and choice of products’.
Elsewhere, the ‘months of chaos’ predicted at British ports appear to be less severe that previously expected – with the documents only foreseeing the ‘worst disruption’ to last three months.
Despite this, the document, which features 20 ‘key planning assumptions’ – one of which is partially redacted – reveal some very real concerns over a no deal exit including electricity price increases, delays to medicine imports, protests across the UK and disruption to the fibioreportscial services sector
A series of bullet points start the document, which are then followed by the 20 ‘key planning assumptions’. These warn of how the public and businesses are not fully prepared for a no deal.
Redacted versions of the documents released this evening outline how the country might be affected by a sudden departure from the EU (above and below)
And that the risks associated with winter and autumn ‘such as severe weather, flooding and seasonal flu’ could exacerbate the impacts and stretch resources.
The planning assumptions begin by outlining how October 31, Mr Johnson’s ‘do or die’ Brexit departure date, doesn’t work in the Government’s advantage – as it is a Friday. The exit date may also coincide with the end of the October half term holidays, the document warns.
It then moves on to warnings over how France will impose EU mandatory controls on UK goods ‘on day 1 no deal’ – D1ND as the document refers to it – and will have built infrastructure and IT systems to manage and process customs declarations and support a risk-based control regime.
The document says: ‘On D1ND, between 50-85 per cent of HGVs travelling via the short Channel Straits may not be ready for French customs.
‘The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold ‘unready’ HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40-60 per cent of current levels within one day as unready HGVs will fill the ports and block flow.
‘The worst disruption to the short Channel Straits might last for up to 3 months before it improves by a significant level to around 50-70 per cent (due to more traders getting prepared), although there could continue to be some disruption for significantly longer.
‘Disruption to flow across the short Channel Straits would also cause significant queues in Kent and delays to HGVs attempting to use the routes to travel to France.
‘In a reasonable worst-case scenario, HGVs could face maximum delays of 1.5-2.5 days before being able to cross the border.’
The document – which says the assumptions are ‘as of August 2’ this year – then moves on to discuss how UK citizens travelling to and from the EU may be subject to increased immigration checks at EU border posts.
It warns: ‘This may lead to passenger delays at St Pancras, Cheriton (Channel Tunnel) and Dover where juxtaposed controls are in place.
‘Dependent on the plans EU member states put in place to cope with these increased immigration checks, it is likely that delays will occur for UK arrivals and departures at EU airports and ports.
‘This could cause some disruption on transport services. Travellers may decide to use alternative routes to complete their journey.’
The document then goes on to outline how electricity prices will likely increase, although there is not expected to be any disruption to supply.
It reads: ‘Demand for energy will be met and there will be no disruption to electricity or gas interconnections. In Northern Ireland there will not be immediate disruption to electricity supply on Day 1.
‘However, there will likely be significant electricity prince increases for consumers (business and domestic), with associated wider economic and political impacts. Some participants could exit the market, thereby exacerbating the economic and political impacts.’
Warning of medicine shortages, the document outlines how ‘the reliance of medicines and medicinal products’ supply chains on the short straits crossing make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays’.
It adds: ‘While some products can be stockpiled, others cannot due to short shelf lives – it will also not be practical to stockpile products to cover expected delays of up to six months.’
More concerning, the document goes on to outline how any disruption or reduction in supply of medicines for veterinary use may reduce the ability ‘to prevent and control disease outbreaks’.
It notes how this could have ‘potential detrimental impacts for animal health and welfare, the environment, and wider food safety/availability and zoonotic diseases which can directly impact human health’.
But on food, the document notes how there will not be an overall shortage in the UK, despite a reduction in the supply of certain types of fresh food.
It reads: ‘Critical dependencies for the food supply chain (such as key ingredients, chemicals and packaging) may be in shorter supply. In combination, these two factors will not cause an overall shortage of food in the UK but will reduce availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups.’
The document adds that the UK growing season will have come to an end and that agricultural supply will be under increased pressure as a result – especially due to preparations for Christmas.
It reads: ‘Government will not be able to fully anticipate all potential impacts to the agri-food supply. There is a risk that panic buying will cause of exacerbate food supply disruption.’
The risk to water supplies is low, it goes on to say, with water companies ‘well prepared for any disruption’. And should there be any disruption, it’s likely ‘only to affect hundreds of thousands of people.’
Operation Yellowhammer also outlines how law enforcement and data sharing between the UK and the EU will be disrupted, and how some cross-border fibioreportscial services will be disrupted.
It then goes on to warn of how UK nationals will lose their EU citizenship and, as a result, can expect to lose associated rights and access to services over time.
On top of this, it notes the impact on Gibraltar of a No Deal exit – which, as a result of border checks on the border with Spain, will see disruption to supply of goods (including food), medicines, trans-frontier shipment of waste and delays of up to four hours for at least a few months.
It adds: ‘Prolonged border delays over the longer term are likely to adversely impact Gibraltar’s economy. Like the UK mainland, cross-border services and data flow will also be disrupted.
‘Despite the time extension to EU Exit, Gibraltar has still not taken decisions to invest in contingency infrastructure (port adjustments; waste management equipment) and there are still concerns that Gibraltar will not have passed all necessary legislation for No Deal.’
The document also warns of protests and counter-protests across the UK, which could ‘absorb significant amounts of police resource’ – adding that there may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.
Fuel shortages are also likely, the document warns, and could add to travel disruption – particularly if traffic queues in Kent block the Dartford crossing. A seventeenth points adds: ‘Low income groups will be disproportionately affected by any rises in food and fuel’.
A fourteenth point in the document has been redacted, but there is speculation it could be about fuel – as it follows the thirteenth point on shortages and travel disruption.
After this, the Yellowhammer document goes on to say that up to 282 EU and EEA nations fishing vessels could enter illegally, or already be fishing in UK waters (up to 129 vessels in English waters, 100 vessels in Scottish waters, 40 vessels in Welsh waters, 13 vessels in Northern Irish waters) on day one.
‘This is likely to cause anger and frustration in the UK catching sector, which could lead to both clashes between fishing vessels and an increase in non-compliance in the domestic fleet.
‘Competing demands on UK Government and DA maritime agencies and their assets could put enforcement and response capabilities at risk, especially in the event of concurrent or cumulative incidents, which are likely to include; illegal fishing, borders violations (smuggling and illegal migration), and any disorder or criminality arising as a result, eg. violent disputes or blockading of ports,’ it says.
On social care, it reads: ‘There is an assumption that there will be no major change in adult social care on the day after EU exit.
‘The adult social care market is already fragile due to declining fibioreportscial viability of providers.
‘An increase in inflation following EU exit would significantly impact adult social care providers due to increasing staff and supply costs, and may lead to provider failure, with smaller providers impacted within 2-3 months and larger providers 4-6 months after exit.
‘There are also possible concurrent localised risks: transport or staff disruption, severe winter weather or flu that could exacerbate the existing market fragility, and that cumulatively could stretch resources of providers and LAs.
‘Intelligence will continue to be gathered to forewarn of/prepare for any impacts on the sector including closure of services and handing back of contracts which are not part of normal market function.
‘In addition, we will look at the status of preparations in four local authorities, which are identified as priority concerns, by mid-August.’
The documents were released after former attorney general Dominic Grieve demanded all written and electronic contact about the temporary suspension of Parliament and Operation Yellowhammer documents since July 23 be released. His demand was approved by MPs by 311 votes to 302 on Monday.
His motion asked for all correspondence and communications, formal or informal, including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook Messenger, private email accounts, text messages, iMessage and official and personal mobile phones connected to the present Government since July 23 relating to prorogation.
It listed key individuals of Mr Johnson’s Government, including senior adviser Dominic Cummings and director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal planning, wrote to Mr Grieve on Wednesday saying this was ‘unprecedented use of the … procedure’.