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As business owners providing services in the UK and within the EU, we are naturally as concerned as most others about the impact of Brexit.  For us the deepest concern is the uncertainty that stops us planning ahead. However, the Operation Yellowhammer predictions that came out last August, followed by last week’s non-redacted version, seems to have confused speculation with fact.

What is Operation Yellowhammer?

Operation Yellowhammer is a 5 page report compiled by civil servants that outlines a ‘worst case’ scenario if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Listening to MPs opposed to the current government, one might believe that everything detailed in the report is actually going to happen.  This includes:

  • Fresh food shortages
  • The cost of energy escalating
  • A shortage of medical supplies
  • Civil unrest in the form of mass protests and general disorder
  • Disruptions to fuel supplies
  • Closure of oil refineries
  • Thousands of jobs being lost

Disruption of “Law enforcement data” relating to access to EU criminal databases is also of concern.  This means that the UK would have to rely on Interpol in order to screen people entering Britain who may have criminal records in Europe.

Security and Transport and Brits abroad

The power to arrest such criminals on “red notices” (those wanted in other EU countries) wouldn’t be automatic as it is now.  This is apparently because not all EU states upload information to the Interpol database. Our police are negotiating with the Home Office to introduce new legislation to cover this aspect of security. However, the likelihood of new laws being passed before 31 October is remote.

Eurostar which operates high speed rail travel between St. Pancras and Europe has allegedly stated that their services may stop due to the time taken for immigration screening, if indeed such resources are in place. Similar transport services from Dover and through the Channel Tunnel are also in doubt.

The status of Britons working abroad is in question as they could face enormous difficulties specifically in terms of those who undertake seasonal work.  This is apparently due to EU legislation covering who can and cannot do certain jobs within member states.

Port management

In any assessment it is usual to look at worst case scenarios but Operation Yellowhammer for many MPs represents what is actually going to happen.

Some radio and TV news presenters are whipping up hysteria, presenting this report as fact.  However, on 11 September a former Dover port manager called LBC to calm concerns over imports and exports.  What he told radio presenter Iain Dale was completely contradictory to what we have all heard since the referendum.  It later emerged that the civil servants who compiled the Operation Yellowhammer report had not contacted port managers.  It is astonishing that they were able to create such a report without doing so.  You can listen to the LBC call below:

Despite the video having been listened to (viewed) 182,785 times certain MPs are still sticking to the same mantra that there will be terrible problems with lorry log jamming at ports.  It will be remembered that the Port of Calais manager said earlier in the year that there would be no delays in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.   The fact that our civil servants and MPs don’t seem to be aware of this is deeply disturbing. Or are they aware but pushing the mantra for political reasons?

Could, may, might

It’s vital that we all understand that “could, may and might” don’t represent facts. We might be forgiven for believing that our government would conduct the necessary research before producing such an incendiary report.  It is imperative that the Government does something to end uncertainty. It doesn’t help to discover that a speculative report doesn’t have all the research components necessary to compile it.

For example, a meteor could hit the planet tomorrow; it may cause significant damage which might result in loss of life. Nothing in that example is a fact and much less if full research hasn’t been conducted.

As business owners we would like more honesty from politicians regarding Brexit.  As polygraph examiners we are well placed to discover the truth. Unfortunately none of the politicians we have invited to take polygraph examinations this year have accepted.  Let us know your thoughts about Operation Yellowhammer.  Do you believe everything in the report to be fact? Or do you, like us, view it as a speculative report that portrays a ‘worst case’ scenario with failings in the necessary research?