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

Island teen climber seizes last opportunity to qualify in 2020 Olympic games

Brennan Doyle, 16, heads to L.A. for Pan American Climbing Championships

University of Victoria profs take home prestigious national teaching award

Brent Mainprize and Edōsdi–Judy Thompson recognized as a 2020 3M National Teaching Fellows

Victoria modular housing complex built to house homeless Indigenous women

Spa’Qun, or ‘Flower House’ will provide shelter and cultural support

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Alice Munro among Nobel Prize winners urging Trudeau to deny oilsands project

Alberta premier says Teck’s Frontier mine would create 7,500 jobs, $70 billion in government revenue

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Most Read