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Media And Political Bulletin – 16 September 2019

Media and Political Bulletin

16 September 2019

 

Media Summary

No-deal Brexit documents reveal UK councils expect food and medicine shortages and civil unrest

Business Insider, Adam Payne, 13 September 2019

Business Insider reports that local authorities in the UK are “bracing themselves” for widespread food, fuel and medicine shortages, civil unrest, and job losses in the event that the UK leaves the European Union without a deal at the end of October.

According to Freedom of Information requests sent by the People’s Vote campaign, well over half of 63 local authorities nationwide expect a shortage of basic necessities if the UK leaves the EU without  a Brexit deal.

According to the documents compiled by the campaign:

  • 68% of councils said they expected food shortages.
  • 59% of councils said they were preparing for fuel shortages.
  • 52% expected medicine shortages.
  • 65% are preparing for “civil unrest,” “increased tensions,” and “public disorder.”

This latest batch of no-deal documentation came in the same week that the UK government published its Yellowhammer report into the potential consequences of leaving the EU without a withdrawal deal.

See this also reported in The Independent

Justin Ash, Spire Healthcare – No-deal Brexit preparations

BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 07:21, 16 September 2019 

The Chief Executive of Spire Healthcare, Justin Ash, appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning, and discussed Brexit preparations.

He said that “the risk of medicine supply” was something that Spire took “very seriously,” and as a consequence the group had been “planning for 18 months for a potential no-deal Brexit.”

Ash also argued that he thought that medicine supply systems were “actually very well prepared,” and that risk could no be “ruled out,” but the chances of “major disruption” in the event of no -deal was “limited.”

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

No-deal Brexit documents reveal UK councils expect food and medicine shortages and civil unrest

Business Insider, Adam Payne, 13 September 2019

Local authorities are bracing themselves for widespread food, fuel and medicine shortages, civil unrest, and job losses in the event that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal at the end of October.

Well over half of 63 local authorities nationwide expect a shortage of basic necessities if the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal, according to Freedom of Information requests sent by the People’s Vote campaign.

According to the documents compiled by the campaign:

68% of councils said they expected food shortages.

59% of councils said they were preparing for fuel shortages.

52% expected medicine shortages.

65% are preparing for “civil unrest,” “increased tensions,” and “public disorder.”

Basingstoke council in southern England said that in the event of community unrest following a no-deal Brexit, there would be a “possibility of council buildings being targeted and damaged.”

Local authorities are also anticipating a serious economic hit if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, with 70% saying they expect to suffer from a loss in revenue, making it harder to deliver essential services.

However, this would take place at the same time as an increase in families seeking these services, due to the impact of a no-deal Brexit on their finances. 54% of councils said there would be more local families requesting services.

Labour shortages were mentioned more than any other potential consequence of a no-deal Brexit. 83% of councils said they expected skills shortages — particularly in the health care industry — as a result of lower EU immigration.

Sutton Council said “for residential placements and for services indirectly delivered by Adult Social Care, the reliance on EU staff is considerable (for example, the most used 5 providers in Adults Services have an average of 33.5% employees that are EU citizens, which could potentially have a considerable impact).”

Other problems mentioned included road traffic and delays at ports as a result of new border checks, and British expats returning to the country and putting an extra strain on public services.

Members of Parliament last week passed a bill that would Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay Brexit beyond the October 31 exit date if he fails to secure a deal after a crunch summit of European leaders on October 18.

However, while a no-deal Brexit on October 31 may be less likely, it is still the legal default. Johnson has also said “would rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU to delay the UK’s scheduled departure date from the EU.

Jacqui Smith, former Home Secretary and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:”The concerns identified here are not hyperbole from politicians or exaggeration by journalists.”

“They are the sober assessment of public officials dedicated to the provision of key services from housing to traffic to social care to waste management. This is not ‘Project Fear’ so much as ‘Project Here’ because the impact on council services will negatively affect millions of people’s lives in countless different ways.”

The government insisted preparations were being made for a no-deal exit.

“Local government is playing a vital role in preparing the country to be fully ready for Brexit on 31 October and, to date, we have allocated £77million to help with these preparations,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told Business Insider.

“We have stepped up our planning significantly in recent weeks. We are in regular contact with the sector and every local council now has a designated a Brexit Lead Officer to work with us to help their local area get ready for Brexit.”

Businesses are in a state of ‘super confusion’

This latest batch of no-deal documentation comes in the same week that the UK government published its Yellowhammer report into the potential consequences of leaving the EU without a withdrawal deal.

The report — first leaked to The Sunday Times last month — included similar advice about shortages and delays, as well stark warnings about businesses collapsing and an escalation of violence in Northern Ireland.

One senior business figure who is in dialogue with government ministers about Brexit told Business Insider that the British business community was in a state of “super confusion” in response to recent chaos in Westminster.

They said that in a recent meeting with government officials, most of the time was spent talking about no-deal planning, despite the official business of the meeting being alternative arrangements for the Irish border.

Business figures have also said that while a no-deal exit on Halloween is less likely, many companies have already activated contingency measures, like the stockpiling of goods, which they cannot now unwind or be reimbursed for.

Media And Political Bulletin – 16 September 2019

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