A classified Cabinet Office document, seen by the Guardian, sets out the command and control structures that will be set up in Whitehall for coping with a no deal departure. It warned that escalating too many decisions to top levels could lead to the collapse of the Government’s no-deal plan Operation Yellowhammer, the Guardian said. This means departments will have to “firefight” problems for themselves, the Guardian reported.
The document said: “The … structure will quickly fall if too many decisions are unnecessarily escalated to the top levels that could have reasonably been dealt with internally ….”
It also concedes there are “likely to be unforeseen issues and impacts” of a no-deal Brexit that Operation Yellowhammer has been unable to predict.
The document includes a flow-chart of a routine no-deal day in Whitehall which starts at 7am with “situation reports” from across the UK being sent to ministers and senior officials and continues with non-stop assessments and meetings until 5.30am the following day.
It warns that this is likely to be necessary for months and agencies and government departments should assume they will be working non-stop for an extended period.
The document said: “Under the planning assumptions it is assumed that the command, control and coordination arrangements might last, during the critical phase, for a minimum of 12 weeks and might require 24/7 working for all involved departments and agencies.”
“Some impacts may be felt for up to 24 weeks.”
The 12 high-risk areas that have been identified as being of particular concern include transport, healthcare services, and food and water supplies, the Guardian reports.
The most important decisions in response to any potential crisis will be taken by the little-known European Union exit and trade (preparedness) subcommittee.
The committee was set up in January, and is chaired by the prime minister, the Guardian reported.
It will have powers to order emergency measures, including mobilising the military, and getting rid of regulations if necessary, the document suggests.
It added: “The committee will be available to take an overview of the situation and make any relevant decisions including on the following areas but not limited to legislation, identifying funding opportunities, allocation of national level resources (such as military, law enforcement or civil service resources, direction of government bodies and relaxation of regulations required at the ministerial level.”
The documents come as the UK prepares for a no-deal exit, with Operation Brock, a scheme to ease congestion in Kent if traffic is brought to a standstill, will be ready to be implemented from Monday.
The Ministry of Defence has set up a bunker underneath its main building in Whitehall to coordinate any military response to Brexit.
It has also committed to holding 3,500 troops at readiness to help the government with any disruption following a no-deal departure from the EU.