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Government trying to minimise damage with ‘worst case’ no-deal Brexit – Brown

The former prime minister argued that the report concealed the full truth about shortages to vital medicines and drugs.

Gordon Brown accused the UK Government of ‘downplaying’ the risks of medicine and food shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit (Nick Ansell/PA)
Gordon Brown accused the UK Government of ‘downplaying’ the risks of medicine and food shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit (Nick Ansell/PA)

By Conor Riordan, PA Scotland

Gordon Brown has said the Government is trying to “minimise the damage” by claiming Operation Yellowhammer documents set out a “worst case scenario” for a no-deal Brexit.

It comes after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the paper she received was entitled “base scenario”, whereas the one published by Downing Street is described as a “reasonable worst case scenario”.

The former prime minister has called for further information to be released and argued that the report concealed the full truth about shortages to vital medicines and drugs.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Brown said: “What the Government are trying to do is to minimise the damage that they know is going to be done by saying it’s very, very unlikely.

“What is exposed is the threat to medical supplies, to food supplies and to components for industry and therefore a threat to jobs.

I don't think any responsible Government should allow people to get into this position where they cannot guarantee the medical supplies that people need Gordon Brown

“But what it hasn’t given us is the detail that I know Government departments have.

“A million medical consignments come in from Europe every day into Britain and we don’t have guarantees about EpiPens, we don’t have guarantees about insulin, we don’t have guarantees about isotopes, we don’t even have guarantees about the flu virus injections and vaccines that are coming in.

“I don’t think any responsible Government should allow people to get into this position where they cannot guarantee the medical supplies that people need.”

Mr Brown has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson accusing him of “dishonest claims” that underestimate the risks posed if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The former Labour leader, who was speaking at a No to No Deal event in Edinburgh, went into detail about the various risks to medical supplies, as well as claiming that sharp food and fuel price rises will “wreak havoc” with family budgets and hit the poorest hardest.

The Operation Yellowhammer report was finally released on Wednesday night after the UK Government was defeated in the House of Commons and forced to release the document, albeit a heavily redacted version.

The six-page document, dated August 2, warns of disruption at Channel crossings for at least three months, an increased risk of public disorder and riots on the streets, and some shortages of fresh food.

Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister with responsibility for no-deal planning, said the Government had taken “considerable steps” to prepare for a safe departure if Mr Johnson failed to get a deal and took the UK out of the EU.

On Wednesday, he said the Government would be publishing “revised assumptions … in due course alongside a document outlining the mitigations the Government has put in place and intends to put in place”.

PA

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