In a bid to ready themselves for the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is holding a number of war games, with a cross-government exercise due to be held towards the end of February.
The Cabinet Office has called this defence contribution Operation Yellowhammer, with plans in place including training some 3,000 soldiers for no-deal duties like assisting with freight at airports and ports, acknowledgement that military infrastructure may be required to store freight or accommodate personnel, if large numbers of people are surged around the UK to manage disruptions, and an understanding that the plan to move more than 6,000 soldiers and their families back here from Germany in case of any disruption, Sky News reports.
The idea is to help assist the government in case any disruption does take place, such as interruptions to the flow of goods in and out of the UK, if we do leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place.
The 3,500 servicemen and women required to be on no-deal alert are expected to remain so from March to July, with this number then being shrunk down to the hundreds between July and October, a defence source said.
“We routinely undertake planning across defence to ensure we are prepared for a range of scenarios and Brexit contingency planning is no different. We are working across government to ensure our people, the defence estate, and our national and international commitments would be unaffected by a no-deal Brexit. There would be no impact on previously agreed activity, including overseas operations, exercises and UK contingency operations,” an MoD spokesman was quoted by the news source as saying.
As the BBC explains, if we do leave the EU without a negotiated exit on March 29th, everything will change in the blink of an eye. British goods being exported to the EU will be subject to duty and will also need to compliance checked for the likes of sanitary regulations and so on. And goods arriving in the UK from the EU could also potentially face checks of this kind, although the government has confirmed it will not be doing this immediately – in part because it lacks the infrastructure to do so.
Rules around air traffic, fishing rights and nuclear regulation could all change as well, with the effect likely to be a slowdown on the Channel Tunnel and Dover-Calais ferry routes, as well as unpredictable airport delays.
The main concern currently is that lorry traffic from the English Channel through Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal outside Folkestone will come to a halt. Operation Brock has been set up to help manage this issue, with a plan in place for parking up to 13,000 trucks. The hope is also that if Dover and Folkestone become slow routes for the import and export of goods, other routes to Europe will be able to handle more of the traffic.
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