Brexit: Sinn Féin criticise PM after no-deal dossier leak

Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson has pledge to lead the UK out of the EU by 31 October with or without a deal

Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit is “reckless” Sinn Féin has said, after a leaked dossier warned of a hard border and food shortages if there is no deal.

The party’s deputy leader accused the prime minister of treating the Northern Ireland peace process as “a commodity” in talks with the EU.

Michelle O’Neill was responding to the leak reported in the Sunday Times.

But Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster said she believes the leaked dossier is “outdated”.

“It comes from a time before Boris Johnson was prime minister, that’s the first thing to say,” Mrs Foster told BBC News NI.

“Secondly, it’s been leaked with the idea really to undermine the prime minister before he goes out to Europe and meets European leaders this week.”

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Arlene Foster’s party is in a confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservative government

The dossier obtained by the Sunday newspaper is a cross-government study on preparations for a no-deal Brexit, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer.

‘Worst case scenario’

The dossier warns that the UK will face possible food, fuel and medicine shortages if it leaves the EU without a deal.

It also suggests that plans to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland are unlikely to prove sustainable, and there could be months of disruption at UK ports.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, who is responsible for no-deal Brexit planning, tweeted on Sunday that Operation Yellowhammer is a “worst case scenario”.

He added that the government has taken “significant additional steps” over the past three weeks to ensure UK is prepared to leave on 31 October.

The prime minister has said the UK will leave the EU on that date “do or die”, accepting that a no-deal Brexit will happen if an agreement cannot be reached by then.

Later this week Boris Johnson is due to meet with EU leaders and is expected to insist that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal.

‘Dangerous approach’

In a statement, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said the reports were “of no surprise”.

She added that any prospect of a hard border following a no-deal Brexit would have “devastating effects for the island of Ireland”.

“The consequences of a no-deal Brexit will result in a hard border which threatens our hard won peace and undermines the political and economic progress of the past 21 years, enjoyed across the whole island,” she said.

Ms O’Neill said the government was “dealing with the north of Ireland and the peace process as though it’s a commodity and it is a reckless, dangerous approach to take and one which must be opposed”.

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Michelle O’Neill made the comments in response to leaked government documents

Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said, in a tweet, that Ireland had “always been clear” a hard border in Ireland “must be avoided”.

He added that the backstop – agreed in Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the hope of maintaining a seamless border on the island of Ireland – was an “insurance policy” designed to protect the peace process.

Meanwhile, the leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood said the leaked documents showed Boris Johnson “doesn’t care” about the “complexities and fragilities of relationships in Ireland”.

“This British government, far from sending a clear message to Brussels, is sending a clear message to people and business in Northern Ireland – they are willing to sacrifice our economic, political and social wellbeing to please rabid nativists in their own ranks,” he said.

Mr Eastwood added that he believed the government had no mandate for a no-deal Brexit and should reverse their position, or call a general election.

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