LONDON—The UK’s Brexit lawmaker has admitted that the British government will have to make sure there are adequate food supplies in the event that a deal can’t be reached on Brexit.
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab, made the statement as part of testimony to a Brexit committee in Parliament on Tuesday, July 24, although he emphasized Britain would not be stockpiling food.
“We will look at this issue in the round and make sure that there’s adequate food supplies,” Raab said when asked about his preparations for a so-called no deal scenario. “It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling … of course the idea that we only get food imports into this country from one continent is not appropriate.”
His words will alarm those who fear Britain will exit the EU without a deal.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the Department of Health and Social Care is stockpiling drugs and medical supplies should there be a disruption to the UK’s ports.
“We are working right across government to ensure that the health sector and the industry are prepared and that people’s health will be safeguarded in the event of a no deal Brexit,” Hancock told MPs.
There are around 70 other contingency measures due to be announced by the government to advise British citizens and businesses on how to prepare should a no-deal scenario happen.
Last week Amazon’s UK boss warned that the country could face “civil unrest” if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Highways Agency officials said they are expecting 30-mile lines of trucks from the port of Dover because of customs checks. The Department of Transport has announced that part of the M20 motorway could be used as a truck park.
Lord Adonis, a supporter of an anti-Brexit campaign, told The Independent, “These delays may well end up causing queues of lorries for miles and miles, clogging up Kent and beyond and causing shortages of goods in our supermarkets.”
Also on Tuesday, Britain issued a policy document on how it plans to keep European Union laws during its transition from the bloc after next March. Elements of the 1972 laws that make Britain a member of the bloc would need to be saved, according to the document, including a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The document is the clearest presentation yet of how the government intends the relationship between Britain and the EU to be little changed during the so-called implementation period until December 2020.
It sets out a continuing role for the ECJ throughout the transition and for EU laws still to apply.
May Will Lead
Prime Minster Theresa May has said she will now be leading negotiations with the EU, with Dominic Raab deputizing on her behalf.
She said in a written statement to Parliament, “DExEU (Department for Exiting the EU) will continue to lead on all of the government’s preparations for Brexit: domestic preparations in both a deal and a no-deal scenario, all of the necessary legislation, and preparations for the negotiations to implement the detail of the Future Framework.”
May’s Europe adviser Oliver Robbins said he doubted the change would see her meeting EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to negotiate directly.
“The key interlocutor for Mr. Barnier is the secretary of state,” Robbins told a parliamentary committee.
“What the prime minister means is that she meant all along that the overall strategy and conduct of these negotiations she regards very much as her personal responsibility now with the secretary of state very close at hand,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Brexit Negotiations Explained
The referendum vote left the nation divided