Boris Johnson hits back at Labour criticism as he defends Yellowhammer no deal Brexit prep


The Prime Minister sought to dampen a row about a Whitehall document detailing possible shortages of food and medicines by pointing out officials had been asked to set out the “worst-case scenario”. He hit back a day after ministers released the “Operation Yellowhammer” contingency planning document in response to a Commons motion passed by MPs earlier this week. “If we have to come out on October 31 with no-deal we will be ready and the ports will be ready and the farming communities will be ready, and all the industries that matter will be ready for a no-deal Brexit,” the Prime Minister said during an official visit in London.

“What you’re looking at here is just the sensible preparations – the worst-case scenario – that you’d expect any government to do.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Government was working “every day” to mitigate the potential effects.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Cabinet minister the Yellowhammer dossier represented a “planning assumption”, stressing the forecasts only covered what might happen if the Government was to do nothing to prepare.

Mr Wallace said: “That is why we are doing things about it. That is why the Chancellor opened his cheque book, that’s why we are spending the money on doing lots of things to mitigate those assumptions.”

He added: “Every day, we plan everything from whether we need to find alternative suppliers, whether we need to go out to the private sector to charter things, whether we need to plan using our army or our police forces in certain scenarios.”

Labour claimed the document proved there would be a “catastrophe” if the UK left the EU without a deal.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said Parliament should be recalled immediately so the Prime Minister can answer questions in relation to Operation Yellowhammer, which he said is more like planning for “war or a natural disaster”.

Speaking on the Today programme, Mr McDonald said: “It reveals an absolute catastrophe for our country if he continues to drive the ship towards the rocks as he is going to do.”

He added: “This is more like emergency planning for war or a natural disaster. We can not minimise this. It does not get more stark, and we have got to wake up to the issues around us.”

Mr McDonald said Labour wants to stop a no-deal Brexit and gain an extension to Article 50. He said when an extension is obtained, Labour would favour a general election.

He said the public would be offered a referendum with a “credible deal” opposite a Remain option.

Former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, who led the parliamentary bid to force the document’s release, said the level of possible disruption set out was “unprecedented”.

Mr Grieve said: “I am pleased they are taking contingency plans, but it is still the most extraordinary document.

“This is a government which, in peacetime, is content on inflicting on the British public the level of disruption which is set out in the Yellowhammer papers.

“It is unprecedented. I can’t think of an occasion where I have seen something of this kind before.”


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