On Wednesday evening, parts of the Yellowhammer report became available. This is the document prepared for the Conservative Government to describe the probable consequences of a no-deal Brexit. Until Wednesday evening only Boris Johnson and his Cabinet knew what was in it.
They didn’t want anyone else to know what was in it. There are still sections which have been “redacted” – my guess is that these are to do with terrorists finding it easier to enter the country once our joint security arrangements have ended. But even what has been published makes pretty grim reading:
“On day 1 of no deal, between 50% and 85% of HGVs travelling via the short Channel Straits [Dover & Folkestone – the major part of our trade with Europe] may not be ready for French customs….The worst disruption to the short Channel Straits might last for up to 3 months before it improves.”
“This will have an impact on the supply of medicines”.
“There will likely be significant electricity price increases”
“Certain types of fresh food supply will decrease….. and will increase price.”
“Law enforcement data and information sharing between UK and EU will be disrupted”
I very much hope that the East Anglian Daily Times and the Ipswich Star are printing all of the published Yellowhammer details so that you can read them for yourself. This document should nail once and for all the myth that we could “just leave” the EU without a deal and without any disruption. It would have stayed secret without the determination of Members of Parliament who don’t want our country ruined on the basis of lies. We stayed up until past 2am on Tuesday morning to make sure that we achieved this, on behalf of the voters.
Parliament is not now sitting, because it has been shut down until October the 14th, supposedly in preparation for a new Queens Speech. This is a patent lie – a Queen’s speech is to announce the programme the Government wants to carry out in a new session of Parliament. There will be a General Election just as soon as it is safe to hold one, and there is no time for a new legislative programme before then even if Johnson had enough support to pass Bills, which he doesn’t. Even the Bills in the pipeline, such as the Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill, which are absolutely essential to maintain our farmers and our food supply after Brexit, have all now been ditched simply to enable him to avoid scrutiny. Worst of all, because it undermines the basis of our unwritten constitution, Johnson is using the Queen for his own purposes, making her turn up to deliver a pointless speech just to prevent opposition parties from holding the Government to account.
I don’t expect everyone to take my word for this. But many of the most respected Conservative MPs have been thrown out of their Party for saying the same thing. That is not following naked self-interest, whatever anyone says. When Churchill’s grandson is thrown out of the Conservative Party for daring to tell the truth then our democracy has reached a very low ebb indeed.
I know that many people, including some journalists, are saying “a plague on both your houses”. This is a profound mistake. I know some people think that if only the MPs would shut up and go home everything would return to normal. It wouldn’t. What would happen would be dictatorship. There is no inevitability about democracy in this country, any more than any other country. We’re not the only ones facing a crisis – democracy is at real threat in the United States as well. And it has virtually disappeared in countries like Turkey and Russia, where journalists are regularly murdered for disagreeing with the regime.
I am actually more hopeful about the future of this country now than I was two months ago. I attended a public meeting addressed by Dominic Grieve, Vince Cable and other opposition MPs on Tuesday and there is a broad level of unity about what we must do. We cannot just crash out without a deal. We cannot just tear up Article 50 and stay in the EU without consulting the British people. We need to have a viable deal, one which Parliament has agreed, one which can be implemented immediately without any more argument, and put that back to the British people so they can choose either that deal or to stick with the deal we have as members. That would resolve Brexit once and for all. If people now start to walk away from democracy and take no further interest in what happens to the country, they may regret it for a very long time.