SENIOR Conservative Brexiteers have denounced an “Establishment plot to sow fear in people's minds” about a no-deal Brexit after a UK Government report was leaked, which warned of a three-month meltdown with shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

No 10 pointed the finger at an unnamed former minister, suggesting the leak was deliberately timed to undermine Boris Johnson’s attempt to get the EU to shift its position.

The Prime Minister will meet Germany’s Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and France’s Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday when he will present them with an ultimatum: scrap the Irish backstop or Britain will leave without a deal on October 31.


At the weekend, Mr Johnson, who has already accused Remainer MPs of “collaborating” with the EU27 to undermine his position, reportedly accused Philip Hammond, the former Chancellor, of "gravely damaging" the national interest by trying to frustrate Brexit.

READ MORE: UK faces potential food, fuel and medicines shortages with no-deal Brexit, leaked papers suggest

In a letter, the PM said it was "plain as a pikestaff" that the EU "will simply not compromise as long as they believe there is the faintest possibility that Parliament can block Brexit on October 31".

But in a sign of intent, Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, was photographed signing the "commencement order" that will trigger the end of the supremacy of EU law in the UK on the Hallowe'en date.

As the political atmosphere around Brexit worsens ahead of the UK Parliament’s return in two weeks’ time, senior Downing Street sources accused Tory Remainers of "appalling dishonesty" for attempting to use the Brexit delay to "cancel the referendum".

The Government papers detailing “Operation Yellowhammer” were said to set out the "most likely aftershocks" of a no-deal Brexit. Operation Black Swan is said to detail the Government’s worst-case scenario planning.

Commenting on the Yellowhammer file, one senior Whitehall source declared: "This is not Project Fear. This is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no-deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios; not the worst case."

Marked “official-sensitive,” the documents set out what could happen if the UK crashes out without a withdrawal agreement on October 31. This includes:

  • delays to fresh food, medical supplies and fuel as traffic jams form at key entry points;
  • a hard Irish border;
  • passenger delays at EU airports, on Eurostar and at Dover;
  • potential clashes breaking out between UK and European Economic Area fishing vessels with predictions more than 280 ships will sail in British waters illegally on Brexit day and
  • public protests across the UK, which may “require significant amounts” of police resources.

But, in an unusual move, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister in charge of no-deal contingency planning, tweeted: “We don't normally comment on leaks - but a few facts - Yellowhammer is a worst case scenario - v significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning - and Black Swan is not an HMG doc but a film about a ballet dancer..."

Later, he admitted there would be “bumps in the road” as Britain left the EU but stressed the leak was an “old document” and the Government had now implemented several additional steps to prepare for a no-deal outcome. He also strongly emphasised that the UK would not impose a hard border with Ireland.

READ MORE: Police Scotland has spent £7m bracing for Brexit

A No 10 source explained: "This document is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available. It has been deliberately leaked by a former minister to influence discussions with EU leaders.

"Those obstructing preparation are no longer in Government. Two billion pounds of extra funding has already been made available and Whitehall has been stood up to actually do the work through the daily ministerial meetings. The entire posture of Government has changed."

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, and fellow Brexiteer Owen Paterson, the onetime Northern Ireland Secretary, issued a joint statement, recalling how, when Theresa May was PM, they attended a private Government briefing about Operation Yellowhammer, which they described as “obviously Project Fear dressed up”.

They added: "That this document was 'found' in a Westminster pub tells you all you need to know about this continuing Establishment plot to sow fear in people's minds. This is an abuse of the proper use of the Civil Service and must be stopped."

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Minister, was also dismissive, saying: “There is a lot of scaremongering around and a lot of people are playing into Project Fear and all the rest of it.”

But the SNP's Stephen Gethins insisted the documents laid bare the "sheer havoc Scotland and the UK are hurtling towards".

READ MORE: One in 10 Scots postpone or cancel foreign holidays over Brexit fears

The party’s Europe spokesman said: "The Tory Prime Minister is in a state of delusion and denial over the impact his extreme Brexit plans will have on essential supplies such as food, medicines and fuel.

"The worrying reality is that these internal Government papers are only setting out the best-case scenario; it is clear even in the face of disaster this Tory Government simply plans to walk over the cliff-edge, dragging Scotland with it."

Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein's deputy leader, said the warning in the leaked papers came as no surprise, noting: “The island of Ireland faces its biggest and most profound challenges in a generation as the threat of a no-deal Brexit becomes a growing reality in the immediate time ahead.”