Published:  12:34 AM, 13 September 2019

UK govt downplays its own stark no-deal Brexit warning

UK govt downplays its own stark no-deal Brexit warning The statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is silhouetted against the sky early morning in London, Thursday. -AP

The British government insisted Thursday that its assessment there could be food and medicine shortages, gridlock at ports and riots in the streets if there is a no-deal Brexit is a worst-case scenario, not what is likely to happen.

The stark picture of disruption represents the government's "reasonable worst case scenario" for leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce agreement The government was forced to publish the document late Wednesday after lawmakers demanded it.

Opposition politicians said the "Operation Yellowhammer" document the government's code name for its Brexit preparations proved that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reckless to consider leaving the EU without a deal.

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve said it was extraordinary that a British government "is content on inflicting on the British public the level of disruption which is set out in the Yellowhammer papers." Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the scenario was a "planning assumption" and would only come true if the government did nothing to mitigate it.

"We are spending the money on doing lots of things to mitigate those assumptions," he told the BBC. The six-page classified document, dated Aug. 2, said the number of trucks crossing the main freight route between Calais and Dover would drop by between 40% and 60% within a day of a no-deal Brexit, with disruptions possibly lasting up to three months. The supply of certain types of fresh foods and essential medicines would decrease, prices would go up and poor people would be hit hardest, it said.

-AP, London

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