'Operation Yellowhammer’ report details leaked

Details of the “Operation Yellowhammer” report were leaked over the weekend...

With a no-deal Brexit looking increasingly likely, this weekend saw a report leaked to the media. Details of the so called 'Operation Yellowhammer' report were leaked, it has been suggested, to frustrate efforts of the new administration to secure a deal on the UK’s exit from the EU. Operation Yellowhammer is the code name used by the Treasury for the cross-government contingency planning which is being done in respect of the immediate issues around and likely consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

The report is said to have been created by the previous administration as a worst case scenario view of what could happen in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This report suggests that immediately following a no-deal Brexit, the UK will face 3-6 months of chaos at ports, a hard Irish border, and food, fuel, and medicine shortages as a result. Is this political posturing or are there real risks here?

The current administration has gone to lengths to set out that this report is out of date and its release part of “project fear” with an extra £2 billion of funds made available to facilitate Brexit plans and preparations, which have accelerated since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. That said, if the predictions contained within the yellowhammer report are even remotely possible, there will understandably be concerns.

It is suggested that up to 85% of lorries using main channel crossings will face significant delays of up to 2.5 days for a period of 3-6 months in processing through French customs with France suggesting that they will apply a hard border the very moment that the UK crashes out of the EU. On its own, this would inevitably lead to consequences for the transport and logistics sector. However, it is important to note that approximately three quarters of the UK’s medical supplies come into the country through cross channel ports, as does a significant amount of food supplies. The result could well be a shortage of vital supplies as well as a corresponding increase in prices which could impact the most vulnerable.

Whilst the Government has moved on since the preparation of the ’Yellowhammer’ report, there remains substantial concerns and further details are awaited from the Government. However, what is clear is that businesses need to progress their no-deal contingency planning to make sure that they can continue to operate in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Weightmans has a team of Brexit expert lawyers operating across all sectors and stand ready to assist you. If you would like to discuss the content of this update, please contact Jacqui Bickerton at jacqui.bickerton@weightmans.com or our Brexit group at brexit.group@weightmans.com.

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