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Leaked UK Memos Warn of Shortages      08/18 09:47

   LONDON (AP) -- Secret British government documents have warned of serious 
disruptions across the country in the event that the U.K. leaves the European 
Union without a trade deal on Oct. 31, according to a report.

   The Sunday Times newspaper published what it said was what the British 
government expects in the case of a sudden, "no-deal" Brexit. Among the most 
serious: "significant" disruptions to the supply of drugs and medicine, a 
decrease in the availability of fresh food and even potential fresh water 
shortages due to possible interruptions of imported water treatment chemicals.

   Although the grim scenarios reportedly outlined in the government documents 
have long been floated by academics and economists, they've been repeatedly 
dismissed as scaremongering by Brexit proponents.

   British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is ready to leave the EU 
regardless of whether he is able to renegotiate the Brexit deal struck with 
Brussels by his predecessor, Theresa May.

   His own officials, however, have warned that with a no-deal Brexit, the 
sharing of law enforcement data and the health of Britain's crucial financial 
services industry could be in jeopardy after Oct. 31.

   The documents published by the Times also quote officials as warning that up 
to 85% of all trucks wouldn't be ready for French customs at the critical 
English Channel crossing that day, causing lines that could stretch out for 
days. Some 75% of all drugs coming into Britain arrive via that crossing, the 
memos warned, "making them particularly vulnerable to severe delays."

   The officials foresee "critical elements" of the food supply chain being 
affected that would "reduce availability and choice and increase the price, 
which will affect vulnerable groups."

   Britain's Cabinet Office didn't return a message seeking comment on the 
documents, but Michael Gove, the British minister in charge of no-deal 
preparations, insisted that the files represented a "worst case scenario."

   Very "significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate 
Brexit planning," he said in a message posted to Twitter.

   But the documents, which are titled "planning assumptions," mention a "base 
scenario," not a "worst case" one. The Times quoted an unnamed Cabinet Office 
source as saying the memos were simply realistic assessments of what was most 
likely to happen.

   The opposition Labour Party, which is trying to delay Brexit and organize a 
government of national unity, held up the report as another sign that no-deal 
must be avoided.

   "It seems to me is what we've seen is a hard-headed assessment of reality, 
that sets out in really stark terms what a calamitous outcome of no-deal Brexit 
would mean for the United Kingdom," lawmaker Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News 
television. "The government is reckless in the way it's been pushing forward 
with no-deal planning in this way."


(KR)

 
 
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