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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

‘Armageddon' scenario Brexit could mean UK running out of medicine

Civil servants warn if the country leaves the EU without a deal there may also be food and fuel shortages

There will be a sharp increase in the number of vehicles needing customs at Dover port. Getty
There will be a sharp increase in the number of vehicles needing customs at Dover port. Getty

British civil servants have warned of shortages of food, fuel and medicines within weeks if the UK leaves the European Union next year without a trade deal, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Times said government officials have modelled three potential scenarios for a "no deal" Brexit - mild, severe and "Armageddon".

It said under the most severe scenario, the English Channel ferry port of Dover would “collapse on day one” and supermarkets and hospitals would soon run short of supplies.

Britain is seeking to strike a deal on future trade relations with the EU before it officially leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019 but officials are now also drawing up plans for negotiations ending without an agreement.

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The UK’s department for exiting the European Union rejected the downbeat scenario. It admitted it was preparing no-deal plans but was confident “none of this would come to pass”.

Britain and the EU are aiming to strike an overall Brexit agreement by October, so parliaments in other EU nations have time to ratify it before Britain leaves the bloc.

But British prime minister Theresa May’s Conservative government is deeply split between ministers who favour a "hard Brexit", that they claim would leave Britain more free to strike trade deals around the world, and those who want to keep the country aligned with the EU, the country’s biggest trading partner.

EU leaders are frustrated with what they see as a lack of proposals from the UK over how to resolve major issues around customs arrangements and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. That will be the UK’s only land border with the EU after Britain leaves the bloc.

Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said on Saturday that the UK must produce “written proposals” for the border within two weeks, ahead of a June 28 and 29 EU summit.

British home secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the British government would have “a good set of proposals” to submit to the bloc at the June meeting.