The U.K.s home secretary has played down reports that Britain would be hit by medicine, fuel and food shortages within two weeks of a no-deal Brexit.
Sajid Javid was responding to a report in the Sunday Times on scenario planning by the government for potential outcomes if the U.K. is unable to reach a deal with Brussels in the Brexit talks.
The paper reports that civil servants in the Brexit, health and transport departments drew up scenarios for a no-deal Brexit — a mild one, a severe one and one dubbed “Armageddon.” The analysis reportedly concludes that even under the middle scenario there would be chaos at Dover part on day one; supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland would run out of food within a couple of days; and hospitals would run out of medicines within two weeks.
Speaking on the BBCs Andrew Marr program, Javid did not deny the scoping exercise had been carried out but said: “I dont recognize any bit of that at all.”
“It is right that we look at no deal and all these different scenarios,” he said. “From the work that Ive seen and the analysis thats been done … I dont think any of them would come to pass.”
“Ill be working towards reducing net migration and bringing it to lower sustainable levels” — Sajid Javid
He said that countries across the channel would not allow trade to collapse in the event of a no deal. “Its important for the French and the Dutch and others that trade continues even in a no deal scenario so they will be making preparations, I have no doubt about that.”
Javid was promoted to home secretary in April after his predecessor, Amber Rudd, resigned over the Windrush migration scandal. It had emerged that legal Caribbean migrants who moved to Britain decades ago — the so-called Windrush generation — were detained and some ordered to leave the country because they did not have the correct documentation.
The new home secretary said that getting on top of Windrush scandal was his “most urgent priority.” He said that of the 8,000 or so people deported to the Caribbean in recent years, his department had identified 63 who were potentially of the Windrush generation. Thirty-two of them had been deported after serving prison sentences for serious crimes but the Home Office is currently trying to contact the remaining 31 to assist with returning them to the U.K. potentially. It has already contacted seven of them.
“If they are part of that 31 cohort I talked about they will be helped,” said Javid.
He said the department had already found “lots of cases” of incorrect detention and he was looking at compensation for people who had lost their jobs or homes. “I dont want to prejudge that because I think the compensation process should be properly thought through,” he said.
On migration more generally, he was asked several times whether he was personally committed to the governments pledge to bring immigration down to the tens of thousands — a policy his department is responsible for. Javid refused to endorse the policy specifically, saying repeatedly that he was committed to the Tory manifesto.
“Im committed to our manifesto but what that means is that over the next few years Ill be working towards reducing net migration and bringing it to lower sustainable levels,” he said.