Following the leak of a government dossier that predicted port delays and food, medicine and fuel shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has complained that the risks had not been conveyed to them by the government.
“This is the first time the industry is learning of any threat to fuel supplies – a particularly worrying situation, as this would affect the movement of goods across the country, not just to and from Europe, and could put jobs at risk throughout the sector which keeps Britain trading,” an FTA spokesperson said, according to The Guardian.
James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the FTA, told the Evening Standard that the organisation was writing to the government asking for clarity and has called for an official inquiry into the risks outlined in the report.
“The Government has not been clear with us how these things might play out across the wider economy,” he said. “My biggest concern is this suggestion that domestic fuel supplies might be at risk. We have been planning for queues at Dover and the disruption of trade with Ireland, but this would be a new order of magnitude. It would affect all our members and have potential knock-on effects for an awful lot more people.”
Credit: James Giddins
The dossier, which was put together within the last month and detailed preparations under Operation Yellowhammer—the codename used by the UK Treasury for civil contingency planning in the event of a no-deal Brexit—stated that UK ports would face a three-month meltdown, and that up to 85% of lorries crossing the Channel may not be prepared for French customs, facing queues of two and a half days.
It also suggested that the temporary zero tariff policy would hit the fuel industry, leading to the closure of two refineries and affecting fuel availability.
Brexiteers, such as energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, have attributed the reporting to “scaremongering” and “Project Fear”, while Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove described the scenario outlined as “absolutely the worst case”.
However, the Sunday Times, which broke the story, reported a senior government source stating: “This is not Project Fear, this is the most realistic assessment of what the public will face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.”
The FTA currently has a no-deal Brexit help section on its website to keep its members informed.