Leaked government document warns of 'food shortages,' 'consumer panic' and 'people smuggling' in the event of no-deal Brexit

  • A no-deal Brexit could spark “food shortages,” “consumer panic,” and an increased risk of organised crime including people smuggling within weeks, according to a leaked government document.
  • The document, obtained by Sky News, also warns that UK nationals living in the EU could lose access to residency rights within hours, while Northern Ireland would face ‘law and order challenges.’
  • Boris Johnson’s government ramped up talk of leaving the EU on the October 31 deadline.
  • Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a further £2.1 billion would be made available for no-deal Brexit preparations.

A no-deal Brexit could lead to immediate food shortages, “consumer panic,” and an increased risk of people smuggling within weeks, according to a highly sensitive leaked government document.

The slide, obtained by Sky News, is marked “official sensitive” and warns there would be a “possible increased risk of serious organised crime including people smuggling,” while Northern Ireland would face “law and order challenges.”

Read more: Plans leaked to Business Insider reveals the UK is not prepared for a no-deal Brexit in October

Titled “What this could look like on the ground,” it also warns that UK nationals in the EU could lose access to services and residence rights within 24 hours of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

Describing the first fortnight, the document says: “Potential consumer panic and food shortages, even in areas which are not directly affected at the border.”

The leak came as Boris Johnson’s government ramped up talk of leaving the EU on the October 31 deadline, with or without a deal. Chancellor Sajid Javid this week announced a further £2.1 billion would be made available for spending on no-deal preparations.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney also warned that leaving with no-deal would cause an “instantaneous shock” to the economy. He said the pound would fall, inflation would rise, and GDP growth would slow.

The document was prepared in the last weeks of Theresa May’s premiership, Sky reported. It was shown to ministers but not signed off, meaning it did not represent government policy.

The worst-case scenarios – broken into first day, first fortnight, and first month categories – also describe “potential friction” at sea between UK and European fishing boats.

The document says cross-border agriculture trade in Northern Ireland and Ireland “virtually stops” while other trade “slows.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We do not comment on leaked documents.”

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