Medicine supply could be cut to as little as 60 per cent for three months in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a leaked Government document has revealed.
The 34-page document, entitled “reasonable worst case scenario planning assumptions to support civil contingencies planning for the end of the transition period”, sets out an assessment of what could happen if agreement on a free trade deal is not reached.
It says flow rates of medicines “could initially reduce to 60-80 per cent over three months which, if unmitigated, would impact on the supply of medicines and medical products across the UK”.
The document also warns of a reduced availability of food, “especially of certain fresh products” and says that the “supply of some critical dependencies for the food supply chain… could be reduced”.
A Government source confirmed to ITV that the official sensitive document, which was written in September, still underpins contingency planning.
Other concerns outlined include border delays, tariffs and new regulatory barriers that “may result in disruption to supply of critical chemicals used in the UK”. The document warns of border delays bringing “local fuel disruption”, but says there “will not be wider national-level oil shortage”.
Police will dedicate “significant amounts” of their time responding to “public disorder and community tensions” as protests break out across the UK, it says.
It also warns that “EU and UK fishers could clash over the lost access to historic fishing grounds, and there could be a significant uplift in illegal fishing activities”, adding that maritime security enforcement and response capabilities could be put at risk due to the “demands on UK Government and devolved administration maritime agencies and their assets”.
The document warns that the supply of UK veterinary medicines could be disturbed, which “would reduce our ability to prevent and control disease outbreaks, with potential detrimental impacts for animal health and welfare, the environment, wider food safety/availability and zoonotic disease control which can directly impact human health”.
It comes after a Cabinet minister warned that food prices would increase by one or two per cent if there is a failure to reach a deal in Brussels.
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, acknowledged that there would be “some impact” on food prices in such an event, despite ministers having previously promised that food would be cheaper for British shoppers.
He said: “Obviously if we don’t have a trade agreement with the EU we will be applying tariffs to some of those imports and that’s likely to mean that in the short term there would be a small, modest increase in food prices.”
During the Vote Leave campaign, one of its pledges was that Brexit would make food cheaper.
But Mr Eustice conceded that items such as pork and beef were likely to see price rises, although he told The Andrew Marr Show that meat products “make up a relatively small proportion of the overall family shop”.
He told Times Radio that the cost of food would “depend to some extent on the types of trade agreements we do with the EU and other countries but Government policy is to try to keep food prices stable”.
It comes after the British Retail Consortium warned no deal would cost consumers £3.1 billion in tariffs on food and drink. Currently, the UK does not pay tariffs on goods, including food products, coming in from other EU countries.
The British Retail Consortium said that around 85 percent of food products imported from the EU will face tariffs of more than 5 per cent, with the average more than 20 per cent.