The dossier compiled earlier this month by the Cabinet Office and given the name Operation Yellowhammer, and leaked to the Sunday Times, reveals the planning going inside the British government to prevent a complete and catastrophic collapse of the United Kingdom.
The plan covers 12 “areas of risk”, and outlines worst-case scenarios. The main points are:
- The government expects the return of a hard border in Ireland as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove “unsustainable”; this may spark protests, road blockages and “direct action”
- Logjams caused by months of border delays could “affect fuel distribution”, potentially disrupting the fuel supply in London and the southeast of England
- Up to 85% of lorries using the main Channel crossings “may not be ready” for French customs and could face delays of up to two and a half days
- Significant disruption at ports will last up to three months before the flow of traffic “improves” to 50-70% of the current rate
- Petrol import tariffs, which the government has set at 0%, will “inadvertently” lead to the closure of two oil refineries, 2,000 job losses, widespread strike action and disruptions to fuel availability
- Passenger delays at EU airports, St Pancras, Eurotunnel and Dover
- Medical supplies will “be vulnerable to severe extended delays” as three-quarters of the UK’s medicines enter the country via the main Channel crossings
- The availability of fresh food will be reduced and prices will rise. This could hit “vulnerable groups”
- Potential clashes between UK and European Economic Area fishing vessels amid predictions that 282 ships will sail in British waters illegally on Brexit day
- Protests across the UK, which may “require significant amounts of police resource[s]”
- Rising costs will hit social care, with “smaller providers impacted within 2-3 months and larger providers 4-6 months after exit”
- Gibraltar will face delays of more than four hours at the border with Spain “for at least a few months”, which are likely to “adversely impact” its economy
“The absence of a clear picture of the UK’s future relationship with the EU has hindered preparations as it “does not provide a concrete situation for third parties to prepare for”, the document states. Some of the bleakest predictions relate to goods crossing the French border. The file says that on the first day of no deal between “50% and 85% of HGVs travelling via the short channel straits [the main crossings between France and England] may not be ready for French customs, reducing the flow of freight lorries to between 40- 60%” of current levels”.