Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit is “reckless,” Sinn Fein said, after a leaked dossier warned of a hard border and food shortages if there is no agreement.
The deputy party leader accused the prime minister of treating the Northern Ireland peace process as “a commodity” in talks with the EU.
Michelle O’Neill was responding to the leak reported in the Sunday Times.
But the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Arlene Foster, said she believes the leaked file is “outdated.”
“It comes from a time before Boris Johnson as prime minister, that’s the first thing to say,” Mrs Foster told BBC News NI.
“Secondly, it’s been leaked with the idea really to undermine the prime minister before he goes out to Europe and meets European leaders this week.”
The dossier obtained by the Sunday newspaper is a cross-government study on preparations for a no-deal Brexit, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer.
‘Worst case scenario’
The dossier warns that the UK will face possible food, fuel and medicine shortages if it leaves the EU without a deal.
It also suggests that plans to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland are unlikely to prove sustainable, and there could be months of disruption at UK ports.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, who is responsible for no-deal Brexit planning, tweeted on Sunday that Operation Yellowhammer is a “worst case scenario“.
He added that the government has taken “significant additional steps” over the past three weeks to ensure the UK is prepared to leave on 31 October.
Michael Gove says leaked #Yellowhammer dossier on impact of no-deal #Brexit outlines “absolutely the worst case”, and government has taken “significant additional steps” to ensure UK is prepared to leave on 31 Octoberhttps://t.co/erUz3Y6B4P pic.twitter.com/2lJg2rb1hn
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) August 18, 2019
The prime minister has said the UK will leave the EU on that date “do or die“, accepting that a no-deal Brexit will happen if an agreement cannot be reached by then.
Later this week Boris Johnson is due to meet with EU leaders and is expected to insist that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal.
n a statement, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said the reports were “of no surprise”.
She added that any prospect of a hard border following a no-deal Brexit would have “devastating effects for the island of Ireland”.
“The consequences of a no-deal Brexit will result in a hard border which threatens our hard won peace and undermines the political and economic progress of the past 21 years, enjoyed across the whole island,” she said.
Ms. O’Neill said the government was “dealing with the north of Ireland and the peace process as though it’s a commodity and it is a reckless, dangerous approach to take and one which must be opposed”.
Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said, in a tweet, that Ireland had “always been clear” a hard border in Ireland “must be avoided”.
He added that the backstop – agreed in Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the hope of maintaining a seamless border on the island of Ireland – was an “insurance policy” designed to protect the peace process.
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
Meanwhile, the leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood said the leaked documents showed Boris Johnson “doesn’t care” about the “complexities and fragilities of relationships in Ireland”.
“This British government, far from sending a clear message to Brussels, is sending a clear message to people and business in Northern Ireland – they are willing to sacrifice our economic, political and social wellbeing to please rabid nativists in their own ranks,” he said.
Mr. Eastwood added that he believed the government had no mandate for a no-deal Brexit and should reverse their position, or call a general election.