Demonstrators carry posters and flags during a Peoples Vote anti-Brexit march in London, Saturday, March 23, 2019. The march, organized by the People’s Vote campaign is calling for a final vote on any proposed Brexit deal. This week the EU has granted Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May a delay to the Brexit process. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Leaked UK memos warn of food, drug shortages in Brexit chaos

Officials foresee ‘critical elements’ of the food supply chain being affected

Secret British government documents have warned of serious disruptions across the country in the event that the U.K. leaves the European Union without a trade deal on Oct. 31, according to a report.

The Sunday Times newspaper published what it said was what the British government expects in the case of a sudden, “no-deal” Brexit. Among the most serious: “significant” disruptions to the supply of drugs and medicine, a decrease in the availability of fresh food and even potential fresh water shortages due to possible interruptions of imported water treatment chemicals.

Although the grim scenarios reportedly outlined in the government documents have long been floated by academics and economists, they’ve been repeatedly dismissed as scaremongering by Brexit proponents.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is ready to leave the EU regardless of whether he is able to renegotiate the Brexit deal struck with Brussels by his predecessor, Theresa May.

His own officials, however, have warned that with a no-deal Brexit, the sharing of law enforcement data and the health of Britain’s crucial financial services industry could be in jeopardy after Oct. 31.

The documents published by the Times also quote officials as warning that up to 85% of all trucks wouldn’t be ready for French customs at the critical English Channel crossing that day, causing lines that could stretch out for days. Some 75% of all drugs coming into Britain arrive via that crossing, the memos warned, “making them particularly vulnerable to severe delays.”

The officials foresee “critical elements” of the food supply chain being affected that would “reduce availability and choice and increase the price, which will affect vulnerable groups.”

Britain’s Cabinet Office didn’t return a message seeking comment on the documents, but Michael Gove, the British minister in charge of no-deal preparations, insisted that the files represented a “worst case scenario.”

Very “significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning,” he said in a message posted to Twitter.

But the documents, which are titled “planning assumptions,” mention a “base scenario,” not a “worst case” one. The Times quoted an unnamed Cabinet Office source as saying the memos were simply realistic assessments of what was most likely to happen.

The opposition Labour Party, which is trying to delay Brexit and organize a government of national unity, held up the report as another sign that no-deal must be avoided.

“It seems to me is what we’ve seen is a hard-headed assessment of reality, that sets out in really stark terms what a calamitous outcome of no-deal Brexit would mean for the United Kingdom,” lawmaker Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News television. “The government is reckless in the way it’s been pushing forward with no-deal planning in this way.”

ALSO READ: Brexit hard-liner Boris Johnson wins race to become UK’s next prime minister

Raphael Satter, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ponoka wilderness survivalist takes on ‘Alone: The Beast’

Show premieres Feb. 13, episode featuring Edwards airs Feb. 20

Alberta RCMP play cupid with #VehicleValentines

Twice a week valentines will be sent from the Alberta RCMP social media accounts

Sylvan Lake swimmer nabs Olympic Trial time

Matthew Gauthier, 20, reached a qualifying time in the 50 metre breast stroke earlier this month

Town of Sylvan Lake approves purchase of ammonia transfer system

The Ammonia Transfer System will help to prevent a situation like the one in Fernie, says Town staff

Part of 50th Street in Sylvan Lake closed due to accident

An accident involving a power pole will keep the street closed until around 10:30 p.m.

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Canada’s flag was flown for first time 55 years ago today

The flag is used to celebrate wins in sports, honour Canada Day, and flown at half-mast after tragedy

No shirts, no city services: Firefighter calendar too steamy for Ontario officials

The city has never funded the calendars, but has OK’d photoshoots at city-owned properties

CFL teams under the microscope after free agency begins

While some big names remain, here’s what lies ahead leading up to next month’s CFL combine in Toronto

Kenney says ongoing rail blockade risks becoming an economic crisis

‘I think Canadians are losing patience with this. I know Indigenous people are’

CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos keep team name following consultations

Talks stem from 2015 concerns about Inuit people being used as mascots in sports

Most Read