Minister dismisses Government’s own Brexit no-deal warnings as 'scaremongering' after leak

Posted On: 
18th August 2019

Kwasi Kwarteng has dismissed the Government’s own dire warnings about a no-deal Brexit as “scaremongering”.

Kwasi Kwarteng hit out at 'Project Fear'.
Credit: 
Sky News

The business minister said “a lot of people are playing into Project Fear” after the leak of the a batch of files on the Cabinet Office’s Operation Yellowhammer preparations for a no-deal outcome.

He was speaking after the Sunday Times published a series of official Whitehall documents revealing Britain would face shortages of food, fuel and medicine as well as a hard border with Ireland if it left the EU with no agreement in place.

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The dossier warns months of border delays could disrupt key supplies to the UK, while social care providers - who would be hit by rising staffing and supply costs - could face a raft a closures.

But appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng said: "I think there's a lot of scaremongering around and a lot of people are playing into Project Fear and all the rest of it. 

"We've got to prepare for no-deal. In fact, the previous Prime Minister created DExEU and she said that the mandate of DExEU last year was to prepare for no-deal. I was working in the department. That's what we were focused on.

“Now we've got a new prime minister who is very much focused on that and the scale and the intensity of those preparations are increasing and we will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on 31 October."

The Yellowhammer documents also warn that efforts to avoid the return of a hard border in Ireland are likely to prove "unsustainable" in a no-deal scenario, with warnings of "direct action" and road blockades.

While it says there will be "no new checks, with limited exceptions" on the border, it warns of "significant economic, legal and biosecurity risks" that would make it difficult to keep it open.

The document leak was seized on by the Liberal Democrats, with the party's Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake saying it "reveals the truth of a no-deal".

"It would have wartime implications, in peacetime, all of them self-inflicted," he added.

"People will be horrified that Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are willing to pursue a plan that will lead to shortages of medicines, food and fuel.

“This is a far cry from the promises Boris Johnson made in the referendum campaign."

Meanwhile Shadow Labour minister Laura Piddock said the reports were not about "about catastrophising or scaremongering".

She told Sky News: "They are saying, in reality, these are the things that could happen if no-deal was enabled.

"Boris Johnson is willing to allow that happen. Because he is completely shielded and the people that he represents are completely shielded from the effects of a no-deal Brexit."