The Brexit that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is advocating could get ugly if the country's political factions can't reach an agreement with the European Union on how to do it, according to a published report from Johnson's own government.
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In the “worst-case scenario” of no deal getting done before Britain leaves the trading bloc (as is currently scheduled to happen on October 31), the nation may face disruptions from a shortage of medical supplies to large protests, says the assessment, dubbed Operation Yellowhammer.
In June 2016, the British people voted, via referendum, to leave the European Union by a slim margin (aka Brexit). And ever since then, various prime ministers and members of Parliament have been struggling with how best to do that amid rancorous disagreements among the political parties.
The risk of a no-deal departure increased under Johnson, who threatened to leave the EU on Oct. 31, regardless of whether an agreement was reached, and the British government prepared the six-page classified document to prepare for potential problems under that scenario.
So just how bad could a no-deal Brexit be for Britain?
According to the "Operation Yellowhammer" document, the British government has identified serious risks including: Significant traveling issues, serious trade route disruptions (e.g., the main freight route would have a greatly reduced flow rate of as little as 40 percent within one day), a diminished supply of important medicines and food and problems with the open Ireland/Northern Ireland border, which was the subject of violent conflicts for decades.
At one point, the document specifically expresses apprehension about significant protests and public disorder.
Those risks may have declined this month: On Sept. 4, Parliament passed a law that requires the prime minister to request a Brexit postponement if he and Parliament can't reach an agreement on future relations with the EU.
The Associated Press contributed to reporting of this story.