Belfast Telegraph

Leaking of Operation Yellowhammer attempt to undermine EU negotiations: Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

The leaking of Operation Yellowhammer documents is an attempt to undermine upcoming EU negotiations, DUP leader Arlene Foster has said.

The documents, published by the Sunday Times, warn that the UK will be hit with a three-month "meltdown" at ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine if it leaves the EU without a deal.

Mrs Foster said the leaking of the report, which is called Operation Yellowhammer, was not in the national interest as the Prime Minister prepares the UK to leave the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal.

"It is important that we use the remaining time to work on getting a deal, with the best possible outcome for the UK. There is still time for a deal but requires an attitude change in Dublin and Brussels," the DUP leader said.

"Continued fearmongering and intransigence is an easy route for some to take, rather than work together for the best possible outcome. It’s not rhetoric but cool heads and solutions that are needed.

"The backstop and any creation of an Irish Sea border would undermine the Union and indeed it will be catastrophic for our economy.

"As a party we will continue to support the government to work towards a deal that respects the referendum result and maintains the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK.”

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Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said the contents of Operation Yellowhammer came as no surprise.

"These reports are no surprise to those of us on this side of the Irish Sea who have been voicing our very real concerns on the consequences of a no deal Brexit for a considerable period of time directly with the British Government and the European Commission," she said.

“The island of Ireland faces its biggest and most profound challenges in a generation as the threat of a no deal Brexit becomes a growing reality in the immediate time ahead.

“The British Government continues to purposely ignore the cross-community majority of citizens in the North of Ireland and elected Assembly members who vehemently disagree and voted to oppose this unwanted Brexit during the referendum in 2016."

However, Michael Gove - the Cabinet minister responsible for no-deal planning - insisted Yellowhammer represented a "worst-case scenario", and a Downing Street source claimed it had been leaked by a former minister.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make clear to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that there must be a new Brexit deal during an upcoming trip to meet with the pair.

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