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Owen Paterson MP dismisses no deal dossier warnings as 'project fear'

By Dominic Robertson | North Shropshire | Politics | Published:

A leaked government document outlining potential "aftershocks" of a no-deal Brexit has been dismissed by North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson.

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson with Boris Johnson

Mr Paterson, a prominent Brexiteer, said the document - codenamed 'Operation Yellowhammer' - is another version of "project fear".

The document, which was leaked to a national newspaper over the weekend, outlined what it said were a number of risks from a no deal Brexit.

They include delays at the border for the flow of goods which could last up to six months, food shortages, price increases for utilities, fuel and food, and increased checks for UK citizens travelling to Europe.

In a joint statement with former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, Mr Paterson said the briefing was intended to frighten people.

They said: "This Operation Yellowhammer leak is the version of what the contingency executive put together.”

“We remember attending a briefing on privy council terms which they said was not worst case but reasonable worst case. Theresa May had asked for this to be done. It was obviously project fear dressed up.

Scenarios

“For example, on the delays at the port we asked if they had discussed their expectation with the port authorities of Calais/pas du Nord who had already said that there would be no extra delays at Calais and they said, (after a great deal of shuffling of feet) ‘no’.”

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“We asked why not and they said they had not been asked to do so. There were other areas where it was clear they had not been asked to get balance but instead dress up previous versions other worst case scenarios.

“The whole thing was an attempt to frighten us and didn’t stand up to scrutiny. We have never seen officials look so uneasy under questioning.”

Mr Paterson said that the leaking of the document was part of an effort to undermine attempts to leave the EU.

He said: "The fact that this document was ‘found’ in a Westminster pub tells you all you need to know about this continuing establishment plot to sow fear in people’s minds.

"This is an abuse of the proper use of the civil service and must be stopped."

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