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Yellowhammer: What Government no-deal Brexit assessment says about Northern Ireland

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The Government has published its "reasonable worst-case" planning assumptions for a no-deal Brexit.

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Titled Operation Yellowhammer the six-page document outlines the impacts on a range of areas on day one of exiting the EU without a deal.

The Government was forced into its publication after MPs voted for its disclosure.

It warns of electric price hikes, shortages on medicine and food supplies as well as concern for animal welfare over shortage of veterinary supplies, lengthly delays at ports, protests and disorder.

On Northern Ireland it warns there will be "significant pressure" to find arrangements to manage the border within days or weeks because of the barriers for trade.

It adds:

  • Plans to mitigate against imposing a hard border will be unsustainable.
  • Tariffs for goods entering Ireland will "severely disrupt trade" forcing business to stop trading or relocate with costs passed on to customers.
  • Agri-food sector hardest hit given its reliance on cross-border supply chains.
  • There could be a split in the single energy market on the island which - although not affecting supply - could see price hikes with "associated economic and political impacts".
  • There could be clashes between fishing vessels in UK waters around Northern Ireland.
  • Disruption to key sectors, job losses, protests, direct action and road blocks.

"Price and other differentials are likely to lead to a growth in illegitimate activity," the paper states.

"This will be particularly severe in border communities where both criminals and dissident groups already operate with greater threat and impunity."

The document is broadly in line with a similar report by the Northern Ireland Civil Service. That warned of 40,000 job losses and severe disruption.

The documents marked "official sensitive" and dated August 2 also warns nationally of a reduction in food choice at the supermarkets with prices increasing with those on low incomes worse off.

Government ministers stress it is not a prediction of what could happen.

The Yellowhammer document features 20 "key planning assumptions" and there is one which is partially redacted.

The redacted section follows on from warning of traffic disruption and potential panic buying of fuel. Michael Gove in his cover letter said this was withheld for commercial reasons.

The paper says business readiness will be low, with companies not knowing of the impact being forced to act in their own commercial interests and the seasonal weather will exacerbate problems.

Sharing of information among law enforcement organisations will be disrupted and EU member states will be unlikely to engage with UK officials.

It does state that in a small number of area which may impact negatively EU states, they could act in a manner which would benefit the UK.

Adult social care providers could leave the market adding pressure to a system already under strain.

The document also says: “Low-income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel.”

As day one out of the EU is scheduled to be on a Friday, the documents states it “may not be to our advantage” and may coincide with the end of the October half-term school holidays.

The document says: "There are likely to be significant electricity increases for consumers."

It adds: "Protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource.

"There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions."

The Government describes the scenario outlined in the document, part of which has been redacted, as the "reasonable worst case scenario".

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