Britain’s Emergency Plan for Brexit: Riot Control and Traffic Jams

Michael Peck

What happens if Britain leaves the European Union on October 31st?

Riots and food shortages.

That’s the expectation of British officials who have devised a worst-case emergency plan to respond to potential chaos caused by Brexit.

Operation Yellowhammer is billed as “reasonable worst case planning assumptions,” according to an official document dated August 2, 2019.

“Protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource,” the document warned. “There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.”

“Certain types of fresh food supply will decrease,” British planners concluded. “Critical dependencies for the food supply chain (such as key input ingredients, chemicals and packaging) may be in shorter supply. In combination, these two factors will not cause an overall shortage of food in the UK but will reduce availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups.”

The plan also anticipates a spate of panic buying that “will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption.”

Operation Yellowhammer planners also noted that many medicines are imported across the English Channel into Britain. EU members can trade freely with nations within the bloc. Once Britain leaves, France may impose border trade controls.

Energy supplies will probably be sufficient. “However, there will likely be significant electricity price increases for consumers (business and domestic), with associated wider economic and political impacts. Some participants could exit the market, thereby exacerbating the economic and political impacts.”

Whatever problems that Britain experiences may be greater for Gibraltar, a British territory bordering Spain and a crucial chokepoint in the Mediterranean. “Gibraltar, due to the imposition of border checks at its border with Spain (and the knock-on effect of delays from the UK to EU), will see disruption to supply of goods (including food), medicines, trans-frontier shipment of waste and delays of 4+ hours for at least a few months in the movement of frontier workers, residents and tourists across the border. Prolonged border delays over the longer term are likely to adversely impact Gibraltar’s economy.”

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