Brexit: File shows no-deal 'devastating for Wales'

Jeremy Miles AM

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Jeremy Miles: “We support the urgent recall of UK Parliament at this time of national crisis”

UK ministers’ no-deal Brexit assessment confirms leaving the EU without agreeing a deal would be “devastating for Wales”, a Welsh minister has said.

MPs forced the UK government to release the Yellowhammer document before Parliament was suspended on Tuesday.

Wales’ Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles said Boris Johnson’s government was engaging less with Welsh ministers on no-deal work than Theresa May’s.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK government was mitigating the risks.

The Yellowhammer file is redacted in parts, almost identical to a version leaked to the Sunday Times last month and warns a no-deal Brexit could lead to:

  • A “decrease” in certain types of fresh food and “shorter supply” of key ingredients
  • Price rises for food and fuel, which would “disproportionately” affect those with low incomes
  • “Disruption lasting up to six months” potentially affecting medicines and medical supplies
  • Protests and counter-protests across the UK
  • Lorries waiting for more than two days to cross the English Channel

The file also said some businesses could cease trading, the black market could grow, and some adult social care providers might fail.

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Ben Wallace: ‘We are on track to be fully prepared’

Responding on Twitter, ahead of attending a no-deal planning meeting chaired by UK cabinet minister Michael Gove, Mr Miles said: “The publication of the Yellowhammer assumptions tonight confirms what we have been saying for many months – that a no-deal Brexit will be devastating and destructive for the Welsh economy and our communities.

“That’s why we have consistently said that no deal must be taken off table. It is now evident that no amount of preparation can mitigate this level of disruption.

“We call on the UK government to immediately step up engagement with us on preparations – worryingly we have had less involvement with the Johnson government than under his predecessor.

“Yellowhammer shows how profoundly reckless it was to prorogue [suspend Parliament] and we support the urgent recall of UK Parliament at this time of national crisis.”

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman and Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said no deal “risks a serious downturn in trade through Holyhead and a significant threat to jobs, quite aside from the fact that if lorries have to queue up to travel between Holyhead and Dublin, we risk seeing Ynys Môn turned into a car park”.

“And on top of that, the document fails to make any assessment at all of how a crash out Brexit would affect Ynys Môn. What that surely means is that the UK Government is doing absolutely nothing to mitigate any of those effects,” he said.

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Media captionMichael Gove offered assurances on no deal planning on visit to Holyhead last month

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Wallace said the Yellowhammer file showed what might happen “if the government didn’t do anything about it” and “lots of measures” were being taken to reduce risks.

Mr Gove, the UK cabinet minister responsible for no-deal planning, said “considerable steps” had been taken to ensure the safest possible departure after a no-deal Brexit in the six weeks since 2 August, the date on the document.

On Wednesday, he said “revised assumptions” would be published “in due course alongside a document outlining the mitigations the UK government has put in place and intends to put in place”.

Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies dismissed the document as “the words of the civil servants giving a worst case scenario, just as they did before we voted for Brexit”.

He told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast: “We were told before we voted that if we voted, not if we left the EU but if we voted to leave the EU, there would be huge rises in unemployment, house prices would collapse and the economy would start failing.”

Mr Davies, a leading campaigner in Wales for Brexit during the 2016 referendum, said: “We all found out that those worst case scenarios simply did not happen.”

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