In a blatant attempt to use bad news to hide more bad news, on the evening that the British Government was reeling from three Scottish judges having called the Prime Minister liar liar pants on fire – I paraphrase – the Yellowhammer Operation document was officially released. The release comes following the defeat inflicted on the Government during the few days when it actually allowed Parliament to sit, and is one of the reasons why it doesn’t want Parliament to sit until Court Certified Lyin Bastert Johnson gets his way on Brexit.
Now there are those on social media saying, “Oh these documents were released aaaaaages ago, and you just weren’t paying attention. This isn’t new. Sheesh.” And this would be true. However the publication of a leaked document is a very different matter from the publication of a document which the government has been forced kicking and screaming to allow into the public domain. Governments famously do not comment on leaks, meaning that their contents can be ignored. They can’t ignore questions on a document which they themselves have officially published, especially a document which they very clearly didn’t want to be published until they were forced into doing so as the result of a vote in Parliament which the Prime Minister lost. Except that they’ve suspended Parliament, so they can ignore official scrutiny. Had the Prime Minister not suspended Parliament, he’d have faced Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and would have had to explain himself.
As late as Wednesday morning, Andrea I’m a Mother Leadsom was still refusing to release the Yellowhammer documents. Her reason for not wanting them released was that if they were, then the public wouldn’t want Brexit. This is a problem because her government’s sole raison d’etre is because the public want something that they wouldn’t want if the government told them the truth.
So finally, late on Wednesday, the government published a redacted version of the report. Well I say report. It’s scarcely longer than your average blog post. They’re not exactly straining themselves this mob are they. Even this hauf-airsed piece of work isn’t complying with the instruction from Parliament, because they were told to release the full document and not just the bits that were the least embarrassing.
However there is some doubt about whether the Government has in fact complied with the instruction from Parliament. Late on Wednesday evening former Conservative MP Anna Soubry tweeted that these so-called Yellowhammer papers are not what Parliament demanded the Government publish. She said that this five page report is not a detailed and frank assessments of preparedness or otherwise for no deal nor the detail of the consequences. She added that she knows those papers exist because she saw them in March when she was still a Tory MP, and demanded that the updated versions must be published. Parliament is using the prorogation to hide from Parliamentary scrutiny. If Parliament was sitting the relevant ministers could be questioned directly on this point.
The Government was also told to release all the documents relating to the decision to progrogue parliament. They’re still holding out on those. Even the dug knows the real reason why Parliament was prorogued, and he’s currently lying on the sofa licking his bollocks. As long as the Government sits on the evidence it can keep lying to our faces. However the Government claims it would be an outrage if ministers and officials were to be forced to hand over their personal phones for inspection. I seem to recall that not too long ago women who were the victims of sexual assault were told that they needed to hand over their phones to the police. Seems that it’s only the powerful who have a right to privacy.
But back to Yellowhammer. A yellowhammer is a small bird. Its call is said to sound a bit like “a little bit of bread and no cheese”, which is a very accurate description of the diet we’ll all have following a no deal Brexit. According to legend, the bird was supposed to be a messenger from Satan. Its tongue was held to bear a drop of the Devil’s blood, and the markings on its eggs were said to be a message from Hell. So it’s all very appropriate for a no deal Brexit.
Even the redacted Yellowhammer document predicts riots, shortages of water and food, price rises which will disproportionately affect the poor, and major delays to the supply chain. Medicines and medical products will be particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays. Businesses are expected to cease trading. The agricultural sector will be very badly hit by tariffs. There’s a risk of contamination of the water supplies. But hey, taking back control from those unelected Brussels bureaucrats, ammarite? Bright sunny uplands and all that.
Rosamund Urwin of the Sunday Times received a leaked copy of the Yellowhammer document last month. She says that there is only one significant difference between the version that she received, and the version that the British Government has just been forced to release. The difference is the heading. The leaked version said “BASE SCENARIO”, the newly published version says “HMG Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions”.
Now there’s a bit of a difference between a base scenario and a worst case planning assumption, in that the base scenario is the least you expect to happen, whereas the worst case scenario is, well, the worst. It’s the difference between a doctor telling you that you have at least 5 years of life left in you, or telling you that you have at most 5 years. Neither of them are great news, but the second is considerably more alarming than the first. The base case of a no deal Brexit is a total galactofuck. No wonder they didn’t put that on the side of a bus. Let’s file the new title under “failed attempt at damage limitation”. Brought to you by the people who have suspended Parliament. If the Government really did alter the title of the document in an effort to minimise damage after it had been instructed by Parliament to publish, then it would be in contempt of parliament.
Given the less than rosy picture painted by the document that the Government allowed to be published, a lot of people were wondering exactly what the redacted bits said. On Twitter, Rosamund also published the redacted paragraph 15 of the document. It reads as follows:
“15. Facing EU tariffs makes petrol exports to the EU uncompetitive. Industry had plans to mitigate the impact on refinery margins and profitability but UK Government policy to set petrol import tariffs at 0% inadvertently undermines these plans. This leads to significant financial losses and announcement of two refinery closures (and transition to import terminals) and direct job losses (about 2000). Resulting strike action at refineries would lead to disruptions to fuel availability for 1-2 weeks in the regions directly supplied by the refineries.”
So on top of everything else, a no deal Brexit will lead to thousands of job losses in the refinery industry alone, shortages of fuel, and riots at petrol stations. There may be sunny uplands after Brexit, but you’ll have to walk there. There won’t be any fuel for a car or a bus.
It’s just two months into Court Certified Lyin’ Bastert Johnson’s time as prime minister. In that short time he’s managed to lose 22 of his MPs and with them his majority, he’s lost every single vote he’s had in the Commons, he’s broken the law with an illegal prorogation of Parliament, lied to the Queen, he’s in contempt of Parliament, and he’s had to admit that his core policy will lead to economic devastation, job losses, riots, and shortages of food and medicine. God knows what he will do tomorrow. As long as Scotland remains a part of this dysfunctional so-called union, we are at risk of the likes of unprincipled charlatans like this Prime Minister, a man who has a drop of Satan’s blood on his tongue.
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