Belfast Telegraph

Government's Northern Ireland law and order fears over Brexit crash-out

Prime Minister: Boris Johnson
Prime Minister: Boris Johnson


A no-deal Brexit could trigger "potential law and order challenges" in Northern Ireland, according to a leaked Government document.

The slide, prepared for ministers and obtained by Sky News, also says small businesses in the province may face distress and the pound could fall in the first month.

Marked "official sensitive" and titled "What this could look like on the ground", it also warns that UK nationals in the European Union could lose access to services and residence rights within the first 24 hours.

But the worst case scenarios - broken down into first day, first fortnight and first month categories - also included potential friction at sea between UK and EU fishing vessels.

Within 24 hours, it says cross-border agriculture trade in Northern Ireland "virtually stops" as other trade "slows".

In the first fortnight column, it details: "Potential consumer panic and food shortages, even in areas which are not directly affected at the border."

And it warns of a "possible increased risk of serious organised crime including people smuggling and illegal migration".

The first month could also see heightened policing resources becoming "unsustainable", as operational gaps in security "continue to emerge".

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on leaked documents."

Sky reported that the slide was prepared in the final weeks of Theresa May's tenure as Prime Minister.

The leak on Thursday came as Boris Johnson's Government ramped up its rhetoric over leaving the EU by the October 31 deadline, whether a new deal is brokered or not.

And it was revealed as Chancellor Sajid Javid announced £2.1 billion of funding to prepare for no-deal.

Northern Ireland is to receive an additional £31.4m to help prepare for a no-deal Brexit, the Department of Finance said.

The department said: "As a result of the Chancellor's announcement Northern Ireland will receive an additional £31.4 million of funding to help prepare for a no- deal exit.

"The Department of Finance will now engage closely with departments in respect of this funding."

Bank of England governor Mark Carney also warned that a deal-less break would be an "instantaneous shock" on the economy and cautioned the pound would fall, inflation would rise and GDP would slow. The Prime Minister was on Thursday to chair his first meeting of the Brexit war cabinet - comprising of the Chancellor, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.

On the same day, the Bank slashed its growth forecast to 1.3% for both this year and next, down from the 1.5% and the 1.6% previously predicted. Mr Javid had announced the funding package, including £1.1 billion already committed to plans for October 31 and £1 billion in reserve, saying it is "vital that we intensify our planning" for the Brexit deadline.

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