LATEST: A Fine Gael Senator has said Brexiteers can no longer dismiss the prospect of a hard border as "Project Fear".
Neale Richmond said today's leaked report in The Sunday Times shows Britain's final acceptance of the chaos a 'No-Deal' Brexit would bring.
The report warns protests and road blockages would be likely if there is a return of a hard border - something officials say would be unavoidable if the UK leaves the EU without a transition deal.
Senator Richmond said the risks of a no deal have been well known for some time. adding: "Unfortunately in the UK, this has been labelled as 'Project Fear' or scare-mongering. It's certainly not...
"We've now moved from 'Project Fear' to 'Operation Chaos' or Operation Yellowhammer in terms of the supply of medicines and food.
"More worryingly for this island, (this shows) the final acceptance from the UK establishment that a no deal means keeping a border on the island of Ireland."
The Operation Yellowhammer dossier warns that businesses and people in the UK remain largely unprepared for the shock of a ‘no deal’ situation.
It warns that 85% of lorries using the main Channel crossings may not be ready and could face delays of up to two and a half days.
Significant disruption at UK ports will last up to three months, with capacity returning to 50% to 70% in the months after.
Medical supplies will be subject to “severe extended delays”, with border delays disrupting the distribution of fuel to London and southern England.
It comes as a new poll finds that almost three-in-five voters in the North would support the original Northern Ireland-only backstop as a solution.
The LucidTalk poll found that an overwhelming number of nationalists, a clear majority of Green Party and Alliance voters and one-in-six unionists support the plan.
Originally agreed to by the British Government, the plan would have seen a joint UK/EU customs territory established in Northern Ireland.
Downing Street pulled its support for the plan after the DUP claimed it would create a ‘border down the Irish Sea.’
That led to the British Government’s insistence that the backstop include the entire UK.
Politicians here have been reacting to a leaked report setting out British preparations for a hard border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The documents, published by the Sunday Times, warn of a hard border while saying that the UK will be hit with a three-month “meltdown” at ports and shortages of food and medicine if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Fianna Fáil has said it backs up all of the warnings that Ireland has been outlining about the consequences of the move.
The party's spokesperson on Brexit, Lisa Chambers, said: "Most serious of these is the possibility of a return of a border on the island of Ireland – something which cannot and should not be countenanced.
“Let me be clear, a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the island of Ireland – this document catalogues a sector-by-sector impact on the UK, but there will also huge implications for these areas in Ireland.
"Given the makeup of the North’s economy, structured around the SME and agri-food sector, and the very tight supply chains linking North-South and East-West, the effects of a no-deal Brexit would be severe and damaging."
She went on to say that Ireland faces the prospect of "a major economic and social catastrophe in just over two months’ time".
She said: "Despite the leaking of such a detailed and hard-hitting document, we should not expect the UK government to change its approach given the determination it has shown in recent weeks to leave the EU at any cost.
“The government here must step up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit. It has been evident since March that Ministers have taken their foot off the pedal in terms of preparations for all Brexit outcomes and we are now playing catch up. Today’s story should act as a wake-up call to the very real possibility that the UK will crash out of the EU on the 31st October and Ireland will be left reeling in the aftermath.
“There needs to be a greater sense of urgency from the government as well as more transparency about our level of preparedness for all Brexit eventualities. The October deadline is drawing closer but there is a real absence of information about where we are in terms of readiness for a no-deal outcome”.
In the North, politicians have said the revelations in the leaked report come as no surprise.
Responding to the report, which reveals a number of details from leaked Cabinet Office documents, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said Ireland as a whole had been voicing these concerns for months.
“These reports are no surprise to those of us on this side of the Irish Sea who have been voicing our very real concerns on the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for a considerable period of time directly with the British Government and the European Commission,” she said.
“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.
“The British Government continues to purposely ignore the cross-community majority of citizens in the North of Ireland and elected Assembly members who vehemently disagree and voted to oppose this unwanted Brexit during the referendum in 2016.
“The consequences of a no-deal Brexit will result in a hard border which threatens our hard-won peace and undermines the political and economic progress of the past 21 years enjoyed across the whole island, but particularly in border communities which have been transformed.
“It will have devastating effects for the island of Ireland and our people, businesses, farmers, workers and communities.
“Staying within the single market and customs union, safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement, protecting business, jobs and the all-island economy and citizen’s rights remains paramount for the majority of the people of the North and across Ireland.
“The British Government is dealing with the North of Ireland and the peace process as though it’s a commodity and it is a reckless, dangerous approach to take and one which must be opposed by the EU27, US Congress and those who value the progress of the past 21 years in Ireland.”
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not understand the situation in Northern Ireland.
“Boris Johnson and his plans for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October are a threat to stability and prosperity on this island,” he said.
“Following our meeting earlier this month, SDLP concerns that Johnson does not fully understand the complexities and fragilities of relationships in Ireland were confirmed.
“The details in this leaked document now confirm that he doesn’t care either.
“We know that a no-deal Brexit will result in food and medicine shortages. Now, by the British Government’s own admission, we know that trade across the border will grind to a halt.
“This British Government, far from sending a clear message to Brussels, is sending a clear message to people and businesses in Northern Ireland – they are willing to sacrifice our economic, political and social wellbeing to please rabid nativists in their own ranks.
“This British Government has no mandate for a no-deal Brexit. If they refuse to reverse position then they should call a general election and put it to the people.”
- Press Association