Boris Johnson is being urged to come clean on the risks of food, fuel and medicine shortages, and the greater threat from terrorism, if no post-Brexit deal is struck with the EU.
Those dangers – plus potential import delays hitting social care providers and even the need for emergency supplies to “purify the water supply” – were all listed in a “no-deal readiness report” last autumn.
The report has not been updated despite the prospect that, with the talks in deadlock, the UK will crash out of the transition period at the end of the year with no trade or security agreement.
Now the Liberal Democrats and the pro-EU European Movement are demanding that the prime minister reveal which risks remain – and whether the coronavirus pandemic has inflated them further.
“As the prime minister continues to oppose extending the transition period, he must at least be honest about what this means for our country,” said Ed Davey, the acting Lib Dem co-leader.
“By reviewing the impact assessments done last autumn, as well as undertaking an economic assessment, ministers can be transparent with the public about the consequence.”
Stephen Dorrell, chair of the European Movement and a former Conservative health secretary, said: “With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on our economy and the NHS and social care under unprecedented strain, the British people have the right to accurate and up-to-date information about the implications of the government’s policy.
“Failure to undertake a serious review would represent wilful recklessness towards the lives and livelihoods of the British people. It would be extraordinarily irresponsible.”
In a letter to Mr Johnson, Sir Ed demands that he “publish before 1 July a review of the impact assessments done in autumn of 2019”.
The prime minister has formally told Brussels that he will not seek an extension to the transition under any circumstances – giving the UK just four months to strike a deal, before an effective deadline of October.
The two sides remain at odds over access to UK fishing waters, “level playing field” rules to protect the EU from unfair competition and Brussels’ desire to wrap everything into a single, over-arching legal treaty.
Last October’s document pointed to no-deal threats including:
Greater risk from terrorism and organised crime – with the loss of the European Arrest Warrant and access to the Schengen Information System database of suspects;
“Reduced availability and choice” of some food products – although “there would be no overall shortage”;
The EU refusing to grant the UK an “adequacy decision” to allow the free flow of data – forcing companies to move part of their operations to the EU or risk losing business to its firms;
It taking “up to five days” for adult social-care providers to import products from the EU;
Emergency supplies of chemicals having to be imported to “purify the water supply”, if the industry’s contingency plans are insufficient;
The UK is hoping to strike a compromise under which it would accept EU regulatory conditions, while maintaining the right to deviate in future – but with tariffs on exports as a punishment.
Source: The Independent