Chief of Defence staff, Sir Nick Carter
As many as 10,000 troops could be deployed on the streets of Britain in case of chaos arising through a no deal Brexit chaos, a report says. Members of the military are ordered to help keep public order and bring medical supplies to hospitals, and also assist with traffic problems close to ports such as Dover.
There is every indication that a no deal Brexit is anticipated to be potentially devastating for the UK public. The UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs about the plans on Tuesday. The Cabinet says that contingency plans must now be implemented across government.
The cabinet has said it would publish some 160 technical notices, with 80,000 emails going out to businesses this week, plus a 100-page ‘Partnership Pack.’ The move comes as Theresa May’s deal with the EU comes up for a parliamentary vote in January.
A spokesman said it was the government’s “continued duty to prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal situation”. Ministers acknowledged the steps that had already been taken, No 10 said, including 320 “no-deal workstreams” across all departments and 106 no deal technical notices.
Plans have been put into motion for soldiers to help the police and NHS if the UK ends up leaving the EU without a deal in March. As well as the thousands of military troops already set to be deployed under the proposals, an additional 1,200 troops will be on 24-hour standby, it is said.
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood added: “The Armed Forces stand ready to support Britain on a practical basis… We have to plan for every single scenario.”
Gavin Williamson, said his department “will have 3,500 service personnel held at readiness, including regulars and reserves, in order to support any government department on any contingencies they may need”.
Worryingly, Williamson said “Citizens will be informed how to prepare through a “range of channels” that could include TV adverts and social media.” It’s sobering to consider that those are also the bunker mentality kind of measures the government would take in the event of a nuclear threat and imminent attack.
Ministers agreed to allocate money from a £2bn contingency fund to departments such as the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
HMRC will prepare a 100-page pack for all UK businesses on preparing for no-deal, and will send out about 80,000 emails to businesses.
During the meeting, the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, told her colleagues preparing for a no deal Brexit was a sensible precaution but “just because you put a seatbelt on doesn’t mean you should crash the car”.
The justice secretary, David Gauke, who said publicly at the weekend he would resign rather than be part of a government that deliberately pursued no deal, told the meeting that a “managed no deal is not a viable option”.
“It’s not on offer from the EU and the responsibility of cabinet ministers is not to propagate unicorns but to slay them,” he said, according to a cabinet source.
A “managed no-deal” is the approach favoured by Brexit-backing ministers including Penny Mordaunt and Andrea Leadsom, who believe the government could pay part of the £39bn the government has agreed it owes the EU to “purchase” a status quo transition period.
Downing Street said delivering the prime minister’s deal “remains the top priority”, but when presented with three options on whether to increase, maintain or wind down preparations, there was unanimity in cabinet to implement all no-deal contingency planning across departments.
All agreed that they would implement contingencies across Whitehall. Previously, departments had been given some freedom to decide when and what they spent on no-deal planning.
“Cabinet agreed that with just over three months from our exit from the EU, we have now reached the point where we need to ramp up these preparations. This means we will now set in motion the remaining elements of our no-deal plans. Cabinet also agreed to recommend businesses ensure they are similarly prepared enacting their own no-deal plans.”
Downing Street suggested preparations could include reserving space on ferries in order to ensure a supply of food and medicines.
The proposals have been drawn up by the military under the rubric of Operation Temperer.In the most extreme scenario, infantry battalions will guard petrol stations should there be unrest in the event of “temporary rationing.”
The contingency planning is being developed by a six-strong team based at Army headquarters in Andover, Hampshire, should it be officially requested by the Government.
The public mood
Theresa May’s Brexit plan has failed to win the backing of the British public, with the recent YouGov opinion poll, conducted on Thursday after the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels was unveiled, found twice as many people oppose it as support it, 42% to 19%. The survey of a sample of 3,154 people found that Leave and Remain supporters had similar views on the deal, with 42% of Brexit supporters against it, along with 47% of pro-EU voters, with just 22% and 20% respectively in favour of it.
The current Brexit plan has also failed to find favour among Tory voters, the survey suggests, with 41% of 2017 Conservative voters opposing it, against just 28% backing the Prime Minister.
A separate poll suggested almost half of voters now back a second Brexit referendum. Support for a fresh vote on EU withdrawal was backed by 48% in a YouGov survey carried out after May’s withdrawal agreement text was published on Wednesday night.
It also found voters were split 54% to 46% in favour of remaining in the EU. Little more than one in 10 (12%) believed that the UK was going to get a good deal with the EU.
The poll of 1,153 people, commissioned by the People’s Vote and published in the London Evening Standard, found that only 34% were against a new vote.
With “don’t knows” removed, the ratio was 59% to 42% in favour of a new referendum.
The Sunday Times reports that themilitary standby operation will be overseen by around 20 Operation Temperer officers – who are typically reserved for army response to terror attacks.
The team were ordered last week to step up no-deal Brexit planning. Army general, Sir Nick Carter told the reporters that troops are on standby to take part in a “No Deal scenario.”
He said: “What we always do is make sensible contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities.
“At this stage, I think people are confident there will be a deal, if there’s not one then we stand ready to help in any way we can.”
MPs are currently holding the emergency debate on the EU summit and Theresa May’s Brexit deal proposed by the SNP.
It was opened by Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster. He said he had seen secret government reports on the impact of a no-deal Brexit, in his capacity as a member of the privy council, and that the details were “sobering”. He told MPs:
“The information shared with me should now be made public. It is sobering.
The first job of any government is to protect the interests of its people.
This government is wilfully exposing its citizens to risk, whether it is on job security, procurement of medicines, food supply or indeed on aircraft being able to take off.
We have to wake up to the impact of Brexit and the options that are in front of us.”
Could a no deal Brexit result in martial law being imposed?
Martial law is defined as the imposition of direct military control of normal civilian functions of government, especially in response to a temporary emergency such as invasion or major disaster. That is, basically the army is in charge.
In the UK, what the government would most likely use instead of martial law is a declaration of a State of Emergency under the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act. Responders are responsible for warning and informing the public in relation to emergencies.
Local authorities are required to provide business continuity advice to local businesses. It also places legal obligations for increased co-operation and information sharing between different emergency services and also to non-emergency services that might have a role in an emergency such as electric and water companies.
The introduction of the Act comes with increased funding for emergency planning in the United Kingdom to help organisations comply with the Act and brings emergency planning funding more on par with European levels.
The only primary legislation which may not be amended by emergency regulations is the Human Rights Act 1998 and Part 2 of the Civil Contingencies Act itself. The second part of the Act provides that temporary emergency regulations are normally made by the Queen through Order in Council or by a Minister of the Crown if arranging for an Order in Council would not be possible without serious delay. Such regulations are limited in duration to 30 days, unless Parliament votes to extend this period before it expires.
However, we do not know what kind of situations will arise in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The government’s own analysis indicates:
“In the second scenario, not even the worst, the port of Dover will collapse on day one.”
“The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”
They added: “You would have to medevac medicine into Britain, and at the end of week two we would be running out of petrol as well.”
Personally, I think it is wise to prepare for a worst case scenario.
None of these articles are from government sources. They are from doctors, economists and people who run shops and supermarkets, which makes it less likely that Brexiteers can call the concerns expressed the consequence of “unfounded scaremongering”:
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