Government releases 'no deal' contingency planning
Plans would see the UK stockpiling medicine, and leave Dublin in charge of cross-border trade in Northern Ireland, while UK citizens living in Europe face losing access to their pension income and other financial services.
As part of a raft of papers released today by the government, the UK government has announced they will begin measures to start stockpiling six months worth of medicine amidst fears of the consquences for the UK of a 'no-deal' exit from the European Union.
The government's 'technical paper' for health and social care pledges "In the unlikely event we leave the EU without a deal in March 2019, based on the current cross-Government planning scenario we will ensure the UK has an additional six weeks supply of medicines in case imports from the EU through certain routes are affected."
In bad news for UK citizens living in the EU, as UK banks would be likely to lose access to EU banking systems, the financial services paper warns that: “Customers (including business using these providers to process euro payments) could face increased costs and slower processing times for euro transactions. The cost of card payments between the UK and EU will likely increase.”
UK bank customers in the EU could also "lose the ability to access lending and deposit services, and insurance contracts” it continues, while adding “the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease”.
Domanic Raab, the new Brexit secretary was forced to downplay fears of food shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “You will still be able to enjoy a BLT after Brexit, and there are no plans to deploy the army to ensure food supplies.” he said.
However he also admitted that the British government would only match EU agricultural subsidies until 2022, leading the National Farmers Union in Scotland to strongly condemn the measures. Andrew McCornick, president of the NFUS, to tell reporters: "Today’s announcement has not told farmers or crofters anything new and has only left us with the same questions as we had before."
"The government need to start giving details of what life is going to be like on the other side of Brexit. [...] [without] confidence about the future of farm payments beyond 2022, Scottish farm and croft businesses have no clear steer on how they should prepare beyond this time – particularly if, in the wake of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, trade flows are significantly disrupted."
On Northern Ireland the trading paper informs buisnesses that “If you trade across the land border, you should consider whether you will need advice from the Irish government about preparations you need to make,”.
“The UK would stand ready to engage constructively to meet our commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context. This would include engagement on arrangements for land border trade. We will provide more information in due course,” the technical notice adds.
Hilary Benn, chair of the Commons' Brexit committee, said the papers showed why a no-deal scenario would be “unacceptable”. In a statement he said:"Having wasted two years, these papers show exactly why no deal is unacceptable and why ministers must now ensure that an agreement is reached with the EU which provides a transition period and protects jobs, trade and investment."
The speech was also labeled "thin on detail, thin on substance" by Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary.
“Dominic Raab’s speech exposes the reality that this Government is simply not prepared for a no deal scenario." he said.
“The speech was thin on detail, thin on substance and provided no answers to how ministers intend to mitigate the serious consequences of leaving the EU without an agreement."
“We are eight weeks out from the deadline for reaching an agreement. Ministers should be getting on with the job of negotiating a Brexit deal that works for Britain, not publishing vague documents that will convince no one."