No10 sources blame Philip Hammond for ‘out-of-date doomsday dossier’

Storm over No Deal leak: No10 sources blame Philip Hammond for ‘revealing out-of-date doomsday dossier’ detailing apocalyptic Brexit forecasts ahead of Boris Johnson’s talks with EU

  • Document, codename Operation Yellowhammer laid bare dire No Deal fallout
  • Downing Street claimed forecasts were the work of the previous administration 
  • Michael Gove said No Deal preparations had been ramped up in recent weeks

The Tory civil war on Brexit exploded last night as Downing Street accused bitter ex-ministers of leaking dire No Deal warnings to sabotage Boris 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Downing Street claimed the forecasts were the work of the previous administration, out of date and showing a worst-case scenario.

A No 10 source blamed former frontbenchers led by Philip Hammond. It 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.

Boris Johnson has vowed that the UK will leave the EU on October 31, but a leaked government document warns of the dire

Michael Gove, who is responsible for No Deal planning, insisted preparations had been ramped up since Mr Johnson took office

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 German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday before heading to Paris on Thursday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Remain campaigner: Cabinet know they can’t shut down Parliament 

Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller has claimed the Government ‘unequivocally’ accepts that it cannot close down Parliament to force No Deal.

The businesswoman, who last month wrote to Boris Johnson arguing any such move ‘would be an abuse of his powers’ and result in legal action, said she had been reassured Parliament would not be suspended.

Mrs Miller previously went to court and won the right for Parliament to give its consent ahead of the triggering of Article 50 to begin the Brexit process. She told Sky News: ‘What they have said is unequivocally they accept that to close down Parliament, to bypass them in terms of Brexit – stopping a No Deal Brexit in particular – is illegal.

‘So without having to go to court they’ve conceded we’ve basically called their bluff.’

But Mrs Miller said she would be seeking further reassurance that MPs would be able to pass legislation to stop a No Deal Brexit.

She said: ‘Parliament has to find a way – instruments and ways – of ensuring that they can pass that legislation, [the] scrutinising [of] which is what the Government letter has confirmed – that Parliament will be able to scrutinise and examine all options when it comes to exiting. It’s not the same as giving them the ability to pass legislation.

‘And because we already have in legislation that October 31 is our exit, they need to pass other legislation to prevent No Deal or to change that date after an extension.’

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng also told Sky News: ‘We are not talking about proroguing Parliament.’ 

The Prime Minister will attend a G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz next weekend.

Mr Johnson is expected to tell his European counterparts that he is deadly serious about his commitment to take the country 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.

In other developments:

  • Mrs Merkel insisted she would keep trying to find a deal until October 31, but said Germany would be prepared for No Deal.
  • Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng appeared to rule out the idea that Mr Johnson might prorogue Parliament to stop any attempt to thwart Brexit.
  • A cross-party group of more than 100 MPs urged the PM to recall Parliament and let it sit permanently until the UK leaves the EU. 

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…’ 

Mr Kwarteng dismissed the warnings in the documents as ‘scaremongering’, telling Sky News: ‘We will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.’

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’. 

MPs slapped down over Commons recall plea 

Ministers last night rejected a plea from more than 100 MPs for Parliament to be recalled to deal with Brexit. 

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the backbenches demanded the summer recess be cancelled.

Government minister Kwasi Kwarteng rejected MPs calls

The Commons is in the middle of a five-week break and not due back until September 3. The MPs also called for a planned three-week recess next month in party conference season to be axed.

They wrote: ‘Parliament must be recalled now and sit until October 31, so that the voices of the people can be heard and there is proper scrutiny of your government.

‘At times of grave economic emergency and threats to our national security, Parliament has been recalled to allow MPs to make representations and to hold ministers to account.’ 

The letter was signed by several Labour MPs, the Westminster leaders of the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Change UK, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Tories Dominic Grieve and Guto Bebb.

But energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng rejected their demand. He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that the recess dates had been agreed by the Commons and there would be plenty of time to discuss Brexit next month. 

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’.

10. GIBRALTAR

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.

13. FISHING

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. 

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