The government today denied reports that its civil servants have predicted chaos at ports and food, medicine and fuel shortages within a fortnight of a “no deal” Brexit.
The massive port at Dover would collapse “on day one”, the leaked government plans from the Department for Exiting the EU reportedly reveal.
The three scenarios include a mild scenario, a severe one and, finally, “armageddon”, according to the Sunday Times.
“In the second scenario, not even the worst, the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks,” an unnamed source cited by the Sunday Times said.
A DexEU spokesperson said: “These claims are completely false. A significant amount of work and decision making has gone into our no deal plans, especially where it relates to ports, and we know that none of this would come to pass.”
The analysis is reportedly locked away and has only been shared with senior ministers because of its political sensitivity.
Home secretary Sajid Javid said: “I dont recognise any bit of that at all.
“From the work that Ive seen, the analysis that has been done, those outcomes[…] I dont think any of them would come to pass,” he said, speaking to the BBC.
The government would have to charter aircraft, or use the Royal Air Force to transport supplies to remote British regions, the Sunday Times source said.
Business groups, opposition politicians and even the Bank of England have long warned that leaving the EU without a deal over the longer-term trading relationship with the bloc would cause chaos, with trade defaulting to World Trade Organization (WTO) terms overnight. WTO terms are generally considered to be significantly more onerous for firms than the current arrangements with other members of the Single Market, which are among the least restrictive in the world.
However, some Brexit-supporting politicians believe a credible threat of withdrawing without a deal is important to maintain the UKs bargaining power in the negotiations. Some Leave-supporting economists have called for an immediate unilateral zero tariff regime following a “no deal” scenario.