Brexit Bulletin: Worst-Case Scenario
Brexit is 49 Days away.
Today in Brexit: Boris Johnson’s administration has released startling details of what it calls a reasonable worst-case scenario for a no-deal departure.
What’s Happening? The U.K. government has published warnings of possible shortages of food, fuel and water, public disorder and severe border disruption if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal. The release undermines Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s assertion that the nation could cope with such an outcome.
The damning assessment, contained in a five-page summary of the government’s so-called Operation Yellowhammer, was released late Wednesday to meet a deadline forced upon it by Parliament. The document, which the government tried to keep secret (but was leaked to the Sunday Times last month), also suggested public preparedness for a no deal was low and warned of intense pressure to return to the negotiating table with the EU if the U.K. crashes out. Bloomberg’s Alex Morales and Robert Hutton have the full rundown, including details of the section the government redacted.
The release capped another tough day for Johnson. Earlier Wednesday, a Scottish court ruled that the prime minister’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful because it was intended to stymie the legislature. Johnson denies this, and Parliament will remain closed pending an appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court next week. English judges have already ruled in favor of the government; today a court in Belfast will deliver its verdict, from 10 a.m. U.K. time. Still, a group of cross-party MPs rallied against its suspension yesterday, with some taking their normal seats in the chamber as a symbolic protest.
Parliament may be closed, but politics is far from quiet. A dramatic day also saw Johnson reject an offer of an electoral pact from Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who had proposed that his party not stand against the Conservatives in selected seats in return for similar treatment elsewhere. Later, in a Facebook Q&A session, the prime minister also quashed the idea of pushing for a Northern Ireland-only solution to the Irish border issue, saying it would not work for the U.K. The idea of a Northern Ireland-only “ backstop” had been gaining traction among politicians as a potential way to end the impasse.
But Johnson also sees reasons to be cheerful. In the same Q&A, he said he sees the mood changing in the EU, after holding meetings with his counterparts in Germany, France and Ireland. “The ice floe is cracking, there is movement under the keel of these talks and we can do this thing absolutely,” he said.
- Will Brexit trigger England’s second civil war? Bloomberg’s Alan Crawford reports from Warwick, writing that comparisons with the 17th century conflict are becoming hard to dismiss.
- The Daily Telegraph reports that Johnson has offered Tory rebels a way back into the party, a move it says could risk enraging Brexiters.
- The U.K. has reached a post-Brexit deal with the world’s oldest customs union, ready to come into effect if it leaves the EU on Oct. 31.
Brexit in Brief
Misjudged Remarks? | Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng caused a stir Wednesday as he commented on the Scottish court decision, telling the BBC that “many people up and down the country are beginning to question the partiality of the judges.” While he stressed that he believed them to be impartial, he added “the more the courts get involved in politics, that is of detriment not only to politics but also to the courts.”
Housing Malaise | The U.K. property market felt the weight of Brexit uncertainty in August, pushing the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ gauge of expectations for sales over the next three months to the weakest level since February.
German Promise | Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government will work until the “last day” to ensure an orderly U.K. departure from the European Union, but insisted Germany is ready for a no-deal Brexit.
Morning Meeting | Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom will meet with companies on Thursday to assess their readiness for Brexit. Executives at nine companies, including the business services firms Deloitte and EY and engineers Arup Group, have been invited to Leadsom’s office in Westminster for a morning roundtable.
Range of Solutions | There are a number of possible options for resolving the Irish border issue, Leadsom told Bloomberg TV yesterday. She stressed the government “won’t do anything that undermines the integrity of the U.K.”
Royal Worries | Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has dragged the Queen into the Brexit quagmire, according to Bloomberg Opinion’s Therese Raphael.
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