Government confirms plan to call up army reservists in the event of no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
17th January 2019

Ministers have laid the ground work for reservists to be called into permanent service with the army in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Up to 350 reservists could be drafted in to assist with the fallout from a no-deal Brexit.
Credit: 
PA

The Ministry of Defence today confirmed that reservists could be drafted in for up to a year from February 10th to assist the government in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

In December, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that 3,500 troops, including regulars and reserves, were being held at readiness to support any government department which requested assistance in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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Up to 10% of the total force could be made up from reservists.

In a written statement to MPs, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said the troops would be ready to mitigate against “immediate impacts” on the “welfare, health and security of UK citizens" as well as the "economic stability of the UK.”

Today’s announcement is the latest move from the Government to prepare for the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this month, the Department for Transport tested emergency plans to use disused Manston airport near Dover as a possible lorry park in the event that customs delays causes disruptions at the ports.

Mr Lancaster added: “Reserve Forces will be on standby to deliver a range of Defence outputs such as: reinforcement of Regular sub-units, liaison officer roles and the provision of specialist skills. A particularly important role may be the planned reinforcement of Regional Points of Command, to enable their 24/7 operations and resilience.

“We would also expect Reserves to be drawn upon to support the implementation of contingency plans developed by other Government Departments.”

But the announcement has drawn condemnation from MPs, including the SNP’s Europe spokesperson, Peter Grant, who tweeted: “What responsible government would deliberately create a situation where they had to put military reservists on standby to prevent civil unrest?”

Meanwhile, Labour MP Ian Murray, speaking on behalf of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group, said: “Calling up the reserves shows just how serious the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit is.

“It is staggering that soldiers are being put on standby threat because of a risk of a constitutional crisis of the government’s own making.

“A no-deal scenario should be ruled out immediately by the Prime Minister, to avoid this chaos. There is absolutely no parliamentary support for this.

“She should take her deal to the public, and agree to a people’s vote which includes the option of remaining in the EU and avoiding the need for soldiers on the streets.”