Operation Yellowhammer primed and ready

No deal: President Macron of France last night warned Britain was heading for a hard Brexit.

That is the colourful codename for the British no-deal plan — including 5,000 staff in an emergency command and control centre. The government is ready to launch it within 72 hours.

The military has activated a team in a nuclear bunker. The pound is falling. Concrete barriers are going up around Dover. Medicine suppliers are booking space on ferries.

There are just three weeks left until April 12th — when Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal unless Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is approved next week.

The EU last night offered Theresa May a short extension on Article 50. For the PM to get her deal through, almost 150 MPs will have to change their minds. In that case we will leave the EU on May 22nd.

But we still cannot rule out a no-deal Brexit. If the deal fails, the cliff-edge is April 12th.

The clock is ticking. The government will decide whether to activate Operation Yellowhammer — the code name for its no-deal Brexit plan -- as soon as a no deal Brexit becomes inevitable.

Yellowhammer would bring together 30 government departments and 5,000 staff to coordinate the emergency response to a no-deal Brexit. The plan identifies 12 “at risk” areas including transport, food supplies and healthcare services.

After no deal, Britain would trade with other countries on the basic terms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). That would include tariffs. For many products, tariffs are low or could be waived. But not all: the Daily Mirror calculated that the price of a car made in Europe will leap by £1,500.

In Kent, home to the UK’s main ports, the council is already putting its no-deal plans in motion. An airport is to be turned into a lorry park.

Last year, Kent Council warned that children may not be able to get to school and dead bodies may not be collected.

Here are some warnings from government offices:

1/ The economy will be 9% weaker for 15 years after a no-deal Brexit.

2/ Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told drug companies to expect six months of “significantly reduced access” to trading routes.

3/ Areas of Scotland and Cornwall could run out of food within two weeks.

But not everyone is worried.

Many Brexiteers say Remain voters are exaggerating the dangers.

Amid all the disagreements, one thing is sure: no deal is once more a real possibility.

My way

Are no-deal fears mainly scaremongering? Currently, it is in both the EU and the government’s interests to amplify the risks of no deal, putting pressure on MPs to pass May’s deal next week. Are their fears justified? Or is it an irresponsible strategy?

But if a no-deal outcome becomes inevitable, would Europe seek to punish the UK, even at its own cost? Or would both sides be able to work to cobble together a “managed” no deal? Can 40 years of integration really be untied smoothly in mere days?

You Decide

  1. Are you worried about a no-deal Brexit?
  2. What is the best outcome for Brexit?

Activities

  1. You have been put in charge of co-ordinating Britain’s response to a no-deal Brexit. What are your top five priorities and how will you carry them out?
  2. Class debate time! “This House believes that a no-deal Brexit would be good for Britain.” Assign sides, and find at least three arguments to support your side of the debate.

Some People Say...

“We have done our best, now the solution is in London.”

Michel Barnier

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Yesterday, Theresa May travelled to Brussels to ask the EU to extend Article 50 for a short period. The EU has indicated that it is open to a short extension, but only if May can get her twice-defeated deal approved by the House of Commons this week. If a deal or an extension is not legally agreed, then Britain will leave the EU one week from now without a deal.
What do we not know?
Over a thousand days after the EU referendum, we still do not know the manner in which Britain will leave the EU, or even if it will. By yesterday afternoon, more than one million people signed a petition calling for Brexit to be cancelled.

Word Watch

Falling
The pound fell 1% yesterday after French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the EU would allow no deal to happen.
Article 50
The mechanism that Britain activated in March 2017 that started a two-year countdown to Brexit day. Any extension would postpone Brexit.
150 MPs
May lost the second meaningful vote by 149 votes.
Cannot
If there is a short extension and a deal has not been reached in that time, no deal remains the default option.
Yellowhammer
Named after a yellow Eurasian songbird.
World Trade Organisation
When two countries do not have a trade agreement, they trade on WTO terms. Every WTO member has a list of tariffs and quotas (limits on the number of goods) that they apply to other countries.
Waived
The UK plans to axe tariffs on most imports into the UK in the event of no deal in order to limit the shock to the economy.
9%
According to an official government document published last month. This is in line with Bank of England forecasts.
Scotland and Cornwall
In one of several scenarios that civil servants are preparing for, according to a document leaked last year.

Subjects