A leaked study among governments warning about the impact of undealed Brexit describes the “worst-case scenario,” Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said.
The details of the dossier warn of food and medicine shortages if the UK leaves the EU without an deal.
Gove, responsible for undealed preparation, said the document was old and brexit planning had accelerated since Boris Johnson became prime minister.
But he acknowledged that no agreement would bring disruption or “obstacles along the way.”
The prime minister will insist that there must be a new Brexit agreement when he has talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
According to Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier was leaked to the Sunday Times, the UK could face months of disruption at its ports after an undealt-out Brexit.
And plans to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are unlikely to be sustainable, he adds.
The dossier says leaving the EU without an agreement could lead to:
- Fresh food is becoming less and less available and prices are going up
- A tough Irish border after plans to avoid checks fail, prompting protests
- Fuel becomes less available and 2,000 jobs are lost if the government sets gasoline import tariffs to 0%, which could lead to the closure of two oil refineries
- UK patients who have to wait longer to receive medicines, including insulin and flu vaccines.
- An increase in public disorder and tensions in the community as a result of food and drug shortages.
- Delayed passengers at EU, Eurotunnel and Dover airports
- Port disruption lasting up to three months, caused by customs controls, before traffic flow improves to 50-70% of the current rate
A No 10 source told the BBC that the dossier had been leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders.
They added that the document “is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to prepare to leave and the funds were not available.”
In response to the leak, Gove said some of the concerns about an unagreemented Brexit had been “exaggerated.”
He said, “Certainly it is the case that there will be obstacles along the way, some element of disruption in case we do not reach an agreement.
“But the document that appeared in the Sunday Times was an attempt, in the past, to figure out what the worst situation would be to be able to take steps to mitigate that.”
“And we’ve taken action.”
Gove also said some MPs were “frustrating” the government’s chances of securing a new agreement with the EU.
He said, “Unfortunately, there are some in the House of Commons who think they can try to prevent us from leaving on October 31. And as long as they continue to try to make that argument, that really gives a little heartto some in Congress.” European Union which we will not leave on 31 October.
“The sooner everyone recognizes that we’re leaving that day, the faster we can move toward a good agreement in the interest of everyone.”
Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I think there’s a lot of alarmism and a lot of people are playing with the fear of the project.”
But a former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake, who described the document as “credible,” said the dossier “exposes the scale of the risks we face with unagreemented Brexit in almost every area.”
“These risks are completely crazy for this country to take and we have to explore all the ways to avoid them,” he told BBC Radio Broadcasting 4.
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said, in a tweet, that Dublin “had always been clear” “a hard border in Ireland” must be avoided.”
Ireland has been respectful of UK decision to leave EU from the start, but has always been clear that border infrastructure on Island of Ireland must be avoided. The Backstop is the insurance, designed by UK/EU/IRL, to protect the Peace Process. That’s why we need it. #Brexit. https://t.co/N2ccUaM5Ps
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) August 18, 2019
Irish backing, the provision in the withdrawal agreement of former Prime Minister Theresa May that could cause Northern Ireland to continue to follow some of the same trade rules as the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU, thus avoiding a border it was a “safe political” designed to protect the peace process,” he said.
She said Ireland as a whole had been expressing concerns about a Brexit without agreement for months.
Stephen Gethins of the SNP said the documents expose the “absolute chaos that Scotland and the UK are rushing.”
Liberal Democratic MP Tom Brake said they showed that the effects of a Brexit without agreement should be taken more seriously.
“I think the government just pretended this wasn’t a problem,” he said.
Ministers were in “a real predicament” because “the United States has said that if that border is compromised, we’re not going to compromise with them,” he added.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that a u.S.-UK trade deal would not go through Congress if Brexit undermines the Good Friday Agreement.
The leak comes as the prime minister prepares to travel to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, before going to Paris to see French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.
Johnson is expected to say that Parliament cannot and will not change the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum and will insist that there must be a new agreement to replace Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement, defeated three times by mPs , if the UK wants to leave the EU with a deal.
However, it is believed that their discussions will focus mainly on issues such as foreign policy, security, trade and the environment, ahead of next weekend’s G7 summit.
Meanwhile, a group of more than 100 Members has urged the prime minister to withdraw Parliament and leave it in permanent session until the UK leaves the EU.
In a letter, parliamentarians say the country is “on the brink of an economic crisis.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also reiterated his call for MPs to work together to stop a Brexit without agreement.
Elsewhere, anti-Brexit activist Gina Miller said the government had accepted “unequivocally” that it could not close Parliament to clear the way for a Brexit without deal.
She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “What they have said is that, unequivocally, they accept that closing Parliament, avoiding them in terms of Brexit (stopping a Brexit without agreement, in particular) is illegal.”
Miller said he will continue to seek more assurances that MPs will be able to pass legislation to stop a Brexit without agreement.