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UK minister Kwasi Kwarteng dismisses Yellowhammer report as ‘scaremongering’

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British business minister Kwasi Kwarteng dismissed worries about likely food, fuel, and medicine shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit as “scaremongering” — even though those warnings came from the government.

Kwarteng told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I think there’s a lot of scaremongering around, and a lot of people are playing into ‘Project Fear’ and all the rest of it… we’ve got to prepare for no deal.”

Kwarteng, a hardline Brexiter who joined prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet last month, was responding to a leaked Cabinet Office report obtained by The Sunday Times. The leaked documents warn of the chaos that would follow a no-deal Brexit.

This includes the return of a hard border in Ireland and the risk of protests; months of delays at the border and potential disruption of the fuel supply in London and the southeast; massive disruption at ports; delays for passengers travelling to the EU; and risks to medical supplies, among many other consequences.

That this appears to be official advice makes Kwarteng’s remarks seem somewhat bizarre.

The Sunday Times reported that the memo, nicknamed “Operation Yellowhammer”, comes directly from the government and is a comprehensive rundown of its preparations in the increasingly likely scenario that the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

Steven Swinford, deputy political editor at The Times, suggested on Twitter that the advice had been written by the previous Theresa May government.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK will leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, and reportedly plans to reiterate this message to French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel when he makes his first trip abroad as PM next week.

“The scale and intensity of [our] preparations is increasing,” Kwarteng continued. “And we will be fully prepared to leave on the 31st of October.”

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