18th August 2019, 13:00
Gibraltar’s economy is likely to be harmed by a no-deal Brexit which will see more than four-hour queues at the frontier with Spain "for at least a few months", according to a leaked Government dossier on contingency planning published in the Sunday Times.
However, the Gibraltar Government has today slammed the report calling it “wrong and out of date”.
The wide-ranging list of most likely aftershocks in the event the UK leaves the EU with no deal, as opposed to worst case scenarios, was prepared this month by the Cabinet office under the code name “Yellow Hammer”.
It claims Gibraltar will see disruption to the supply of goods such as food and medicine, shipments of waste and long queues at the frontier, adding the Rock has continued to plan for “less significant” delays.
The report highlights a failure of the Gibraltar Government to invest in contingency infrastructure, such as port adjustments, and says it has still not passed all the necessary legislation for a no-deal scenario.
Number Six meanwhile has hit back with a statement saying the Yellow Hammer briefings were based on worst case scenarios, and are outdated as the matters raised in the report have already been responsibly addressed in detail.
It says the Government has been working with Yellow Hammer for many months and has already commissioned all necessary works at the port. On matters concerning the frontier, such as the flow of goods, people and vehicles, and waste management, the statement says these all been dealt with.
Number six adds Yellow Hammer has based its reporting on the situation leading up to the first Brexit date, the 29th March, when the Gibraltar Government says it rightly hadn’t wanted to incur any unnecessary costs in the event that Britain did not leave the EU at that time. However, it says it has now invested in planning for a potential no-deal Brexit on October 31st.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo says although Gibraltar does not want a no-deal Brexit, we are nevertheless prepared for it, adding all legislation is now ready except for one law relating to International Agreements which has been held back for logistical reasons.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, reasserted that resolutions and mechanisms for future flows have all now been put in place, but warned a no-deal Brexit will cause some disruption. Despite this, he gave assurances that it if did happen, Gibraltar was ready for it. He said "We do not expect four-hour queues. We do not expect any problems with the provision of medicines, the arrival in Gibraltar of foodstuffs and other goods. We do not envisage any problems with the disposal of waste. But those are the planning assumptions we have responsibly prepared for.”
The Times report concludes the UK public and businesses are largely unprepared for a no-deal Brexit which it puts down to "Brexit fatigue" resulting in contingency planning having stalled since the original exit date in March. A source told the paper, the research, which could see the UK face shortages of food, medicine and fuel, is based on "likely, basic and reasonable scenarios - not the worst case".
Meanwhile, Former Conservative Party Leader Iain Duncan Smith has dismissed the leak as a "continuing establishment plot to sow fear in people's minds".