Amazon planning for ‘civil unrest’ under no deal Brexit
Online shopping giant Amazon has drawn up plans for "civil unrest" if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal, it has emerged.
The stark warning came at a summit between top business leaders and new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab last week.
The gathering brought together business chiefs including Amazon's UK manager Doug Burr, as well as senior figures from insurance firm Lloyd's, oil giant Shell and grocery chain Morrison's.
A source present at the meeting told the Times: "People seem to feel marginally more positive than when they went in.
"Let’s hope so, given that one of the people there with a significant supply chain had civil unrest within two weeks in their no-deal planning."
According to the Times, the warning - which was reportedly challenged by other attendees at the Chevening summit in Kent - was given by Mr Burr.
A spokesperson for Amazon, which employs some 24,000 workers in the UK, would not confirm or deny the report.
"Like any business, we consider a wide range of scenarios in planning discussions so that we’re prepared to continue serving customers and small businesses who count on Amazon, even if those scenarios are very unlikely," they said.
"This is not specific to any one issue — it’s the way we plan for any number of issues around the world."
'ANY AND EVERY EVENTUALITY'
The revelation that the retail heavyweight is planning for a disruptive 'no deal' Brexit comes after Mr Raab vowed to "step up" planning for a hard exit from the EU.
The Brexit Secretary, who took on the job earlier this month following the dramatic resignation of David Davis, said the Government was preparing for "any and every eventuality" if the UK ends up leaving without a deal and reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
But he dismissed claims that food was being stockpiled in anticipation of major disruption, telling the BBC: “No, that kind of selective snippet that makes it into the media I think is - to the extent that the pubic pay attention to it - I think is unhelpful…
“If we have no deal, we will want to make sure that we are prepared at the border, with the knock-on effects that would have if on the EU side they take the worst-case scenario approach, which is frankly irrational.”
Mr Davis meanwhile urged ministers to "accelerate" preparations for a "no deal" scenario in a bid to pile pressure on the EU.
"By the end of the summer it should be plain we are making proper preparations for this," he told the Sunday Express.
"Frankly if we get to October and it’s not looking good, we should accelerate again – more money, more resources and so on."
But former attorney general Dominic Grieve, a leading Conservative Remainer, warned that leaving without a deal would be "absolutely catastrophic" for the UK.
He told Sky News: "We've got to be realistic about this. We will be in a state of emergency.
"Basic services that we take for granted might not be available.
"It wouldn't be possible, for example, for someone to fly to Rome because the overflying rights over the other countries of the EU are regulated by EU law.
"We wouldn't get medicines in, this point has already been made. We'd be out of the medicines agency.
"And, there'd be difficulties bringing food into this country because of the number of regulatory checks that would take place."