Michael Gove ‘is to recruit a military planner to draw up contingencies amid fears Britain could run short of food in the event of a no-deal Brexit’
- The military planner is set to be in place by January to help ensure supplies
- The planner will assess alternative routes into the UK for food supplies
- Preparatory work will be carried out to ensure rural communities have enough resources
Michael Gove is set to become the first minister to employ a military planner as fears continue to grow surrounding the possibility of food shortages in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The military planner is set to be in place by January and has been offered to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by the Ministry of Defence, to help ensure that rural communities have enough resources in the event of a ‘worst case scenario’.
Contingency plans will be drawn up, based on a blueprint known in Whitehall as Operation Yellowhammer, which assumes that trade between Calais and Dover will become severely disrupted.
Part of the planner’s job would also be to assess alternative routes into Britain for food supplies and to carry out preparatory work to ensure that rural communities are supplied.
Michael Gove (pictured above) is set to recruit a military planner to aid a possible food shortage
Speaking to The Telegraph, a government source said that the planner will also assess where food supplies can be stockpiled on Ministry of Defence land to ensure that there are no shortages in rural areas.
The worst-case scenario in Operation Yellowhammer assumes that Britons may be forced to eat a ‘restricted diet’ and that there would have to be a ‘dramatic reduction in livestock production’, so that crops are eaten by people rather than being used for animal feed.
It states: ‘Should an extreme event (such as no access to trade) impact the UK’s access to food, UK agriculture has enough nutritious food for the vulnerable, however it would be a restricted diet with less choice for consumers.
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‘Maximising calorie production would lead to a dramatic reduction in livestock production with all crop production used for human food where possible instead of animal feed.’
‘UK agriculture is also reliant on imported energy, fertiliser, seeds and machinery. If the scope for trade was ever completely removed, domestic agriculture itself would be deprived of essential inputs.
‘We have not made an assessment of the potential of UK food production to feed the population if we did not have access to critical dependencies.’
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured above) announced that 3,500 soldiers have been placed on standby to provide assistance in the event of a no deal Brexit
However, a government source said that it was ‘totally incorrect’ to suggest that ministers would advise people to change their diet’, adding that the UK has a ‘high degree of food security’.
Mr Gove is said to be considering the offer of support from the Ministry of Defence but is expected to accept.
A Whitehall source said: ‘This is just sensible contingency planning for a worst-case scenario. It’s unlikely to happen but it is responsible to prepare just in case.’
David Gauke (pictured above), the Justice Secretary, said he would be ‘very surprised’ if the Mrs May was prepared to back a no-deal Brexit
The news comes after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that 3,500 soldiers have been placed on standby to provide assistance in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Soldiers could be drafted in to carry out logistics and drive trucks to ensure the security of food and medicine.
The Government has started booking space on ferries to ensure that essential supplies of food and medicine can reach the UK in the event of a ‘disorderly’ Brexit.
David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, said he would be ‘very surprised’ if the Mrs May was prepared to back a no-deal Brexit. He has previously indicated he would quit the Government under a no-deal Brexit.
This latest update comes as families up and down the UK have started to stock pile food, through fears of a ‘no-deal’ scenario’. Parents such as Nevinne Mann having been stuffing their cupboards with goods.
The family have prepared for March 29, 2019, Brexit day, when Britain will quit the European Union. ‘If, by then, we have a deal with the EU, then hopefully everyday life will carry on more or less as normal,’ says Nevine, a former midwife, who cares for the couple’s three children Oliver, 18, Ethan, 13, and Paige, five.
Nevine Man (left) with her daughter Paige aged 5 (right), at their home in Illogan, Cornwall
‘But if we’ve failed to reach a deal the consequences could be scary: we just want to be ready for that.’
While Ministers dismiss such talk, alarm began in June after news was leaked that the Government had outlined different scenarios for a no-deal Brexit. The worst was dubbed ‘Armageddon’, with the port of Dover (where a third of all our food supplies arrive from Europe) grinding to a halt. Lorries might then be stuck for days on motorways waiting for import checks as their loads of fresh produce rot.
Some of the stockpiled ‘essential’ items including honey, sweetcorn and tinned tomatoes
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