Government preparing for no-deal Brexit and virus clash

A UK flag at the European Parliament, where the UK floats towards a no-deal Brexit.
Source: European Parliament (via. Flickr.)
A leaked document has detailed the Government’s preparations in the event of a no-deal Brexit and a second wave of the Coronavirus. 

By Morgan Perry | Political Editor

A leaked document has detailed the Government’s preparations in the event of a no-deal Brexit and a second wave of the coronavirus. 

The report, which was shown to ministers, details a “reasonable worst-case scenario” in the event of a no-deal Brexit occurring at the same time as a second wave of coronavirus. 

As reported by The Sun, there are concerns that the British Army may find themselves preventing public disorder on the streets, and that The Royal Navy may be called in to prevent clashes between fishing boats in the English Channel. 

In the most serious scenario, the country may face fuel shortages and power outages. 

Medicine shortages in hospitals and the NHS are likely to be further compounded by a second wave of COVID-19 and the seasonal winter flu, ministers were warned. 

Councils and local authorities are likely to find themselves in financial predicaments, as one in 20 could go bust.

If bad weather continues to attack the UK, flash flooding and torrential rain will further impact the country’s response to the virus.

Long queues, dead flowers, and medicine shortages

Trade agreements between the UK and the EU will change overnight in the event that negotiators do not reach a deal before the December deadline.

Without a deal, there are likely to be long queues on both sides of the Channel, with additional checks on where goods have come from and where they’re going.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, and medicines are likely to be worst affected. 

Industries that rely on “just in time” manufacturing – whereby goods are made on a quick turnaround – will also be impacted by a no-deal Brexit; many factories require parts to be delivered as finalised products are moving across the production line. 

The Government has sought to mitigate the risk of long queues of lorries by building a lorry park in Kent which can accommodate up to 10,000 vehicles in the event of delays. 

It has been reported that an additional 500 border officials will be required to process trade documents at the border, costing as much as £10m. Up to £705m will be required in total to prepare the UK border for the country’s departure from the EU. 

State aid is the solution

There are growing concerns that the UK may leave the transition period on December 31 without a deal on trade.

Reports suggest that the EU is unwilling to move forward with trade negotiations without a UK policy on state aid – that is, grants given by the UK Government to struggling industries or companies that could potentially create unfair competition for similar businesses within the EU. 

Tony Abbot, who could assist with post-Brexit trade deals.
Tony Abbott (Source: Troy Constable, via. Flickr).

The UK response suggests the policy has not yet been written. 

News about the risk of a no-deal Brexit comes in the same week that rumours surfaced about the Government’s appointment of former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, as a UK trade envoy. 

Abbott is seen as a controversial figure by many and has a history of sexist and homophobic comments. When asked, the Government refused to confirm whether Mr Abbott had been appointed to represent the UK overseas.

Just two weeks to go

The latest round of negotiations between the UK and the European Union has ended without further agreement. Number 10 has been warned that there are now just two weeks to protect the UK’s future, and the next round of talks between the EU and its estranged neighbour kick off in London on September 7.

Observers are worried that, without a deal in the next round of negotiations, negotiations will collapse, leading to some of the worst of the scenarios detailed in the leaked report. 

It will soon be clear whether the UK faces a repeat of the Winter of Discontent. 

Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics.

Politics Morgan Perry

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