Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Low-income groups worst off in no-deal Brexit, plan reveals

Food shortages and price rises are predicted in the government's planning document

The UK government has released a document detailing its predictions for the impact of a no-deal Brexit, which could cause food shortages. AFP
The UK government has released a document detailing its predictions for the impact of a no-deal Brexit, which could cause food shortages. AFP

The British government on Wednesday released its planning document detailing its predictions for the effects of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The document was released after ministers voted on a parliamentary motion to force the government to make the details of its no-deal Brexit planning known to the public.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom had suggested that the government would not release the document because it could “concern” the public.

They extensively outline the government’s understanding of what the consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be, including damaging effects likely to weaken its pursuit of an October 31 exit with or without a deal.

“Low-income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel,” the planning document states.

It confirmed fears first raised in an earlier leak revealing some of the government’s contingency planning.

Commentators on Twitter were quick to point out the similarities between the government’s official release and the leak published by The Sunday Times.

But some pointed out that the document's title appeared to have changed from Base Scenario to Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions.

The document, which shows government planning as of August 2, also predicts that a no-deal Brexit could worsen seasonal pressures on health care and infrastructure, such as flu and floods.

The government’s worst-case prediction also stated that medicine from across the channel could face significant disruption.

“The reliance of medicines and medical products’ supply chains on the short straits crossing make them particularly vulnerable to severe, extended delays,” the document warns.

It says that stockpiling medicine to cover a period of disruption predicted to last six months would not be practical.

Disruption is also predicted to affect the supply of food in a no-deal Brexit, leading to a reduced “availability and choice of products” and increased prices.

A rise in the cost of electricity and delays to vehicles carrying heavy goods across the UK’s borders with Europe are also included in the government plans.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the document confirms “the severe risks of a no-deal Brexit”.

Mr Starmer criticised the government for trying to “prevent the public from seeing the evidence".

He said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson should “admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequences of a no deal Brexit".

The motion passed by MPs also covered government communications on no-deal preparations.

But the government on Wednesday said it would not comply with the request made by MPs.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove called the attempt by MPs to seize the communications was “unreasonable and disproportionate".

The government rejected the request, saying it could breach employment and data-protection rights.

Updated: September 12, 2019 09:53 AM

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