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Yellowhammer for Dummies: What is UK Government Preparing For Amid Possible No-Deal Brexit Chaos?

© AFP 2023 / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDAn official hangs a Union Jack next to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, ahead of a European Union Summit on Brexit.
An official hangs a Union Jack next to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, ahead of a European Union Summit on Brexit. - Sputnik International
The government earlier published documents on Operation Yellowhammer after speculation about its contents started surfacing in various British media outlets, prompting fears that London may not be able to cope with the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

Michael Gove, the man in charge of the UK's preparations for Brexit, announced on 20 October that if Brussels doesn't grant an extension to the exit deadline that has been requested by British lawmakers, then the UK will leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

He further added that in light of this possibility, the so-called Operation Yellowhammer is being triggered in order to prevent the consequences of a worst-case scenario where the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal. The plan, which was unveiled in September, aims to resolve issues that London expects will arise in a worst case no-deal Brexit scenario:

  • The UK believes that a lack of regulated trade relations with the EU is likely to disrupt food and fuel supply to the country. This negative scenario might be made worse if citizens start "panic buying".
  • At the same time, London believes that the repercussions of a disruption of food supply chains would be limited to a reduction in the availability and choice of products.
  • Lack of a divorce deal might also result in British heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) not meeting EU regulations and thus unable to cross the English Channel. This, in turn, could lead to a blockage of ports and certain motorways with vehicles unable to go through.
  • Possible troubles with goods crossing the border might also mean that the UK will be left without vital medical supplies. The government has started stockpiling necessities, aiming for a potential six-month "draught" during the transition period, but some medicines can't be stockpiled due to their short shelf time.
  • London also fears that a no-deal scenario could lead to a renewal of conflict between the fishing business in the UK and the EU. Resolving this might require significant "enforcement and response capabilities".
  • The latter, in turn, could result in enforcement agencies facing staff shortages, leading to "disorder or criminality" rising in the country.
  • The lack of enforcement agents could also coincide with nation-wide protests and counter-protests that the UK government expects will take place after a no-deal Brexit.
  • Additionally, UK and EU information sharing in the sphere of law enforcement will also suffer and the bloc’s arrest warrant system is likely to be suspended, leaving London without options to pursue criminals fleeing to the Republic of Ireland or to mainland Europe.

Following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's success at reaching a new deal with the EU on Brexit, British lawmakers passed an amendment on 19 October, demanding that he request a Brexit delay until 31 January 2020, something that the PM has ruled out.

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