In Brexit

In a two page letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson, 113 MPs from across the parties have accused him of deploying the language of “fascism”.

By Tom Coberg

Published on The Canary, Aug 18, 2019
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In a two page letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson, 113 MPs from across the parties have accused him of deploying the language of “fascism”. Their prime concern was the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. They demand the recall of parliament. This follows speculation, reported by The Canary, that the Johnson-led government could crash out of the EU before parliament returns from the summer recess.

The letter

On the first page of the letter, the MPs get straight to the point and demand an immediate recall of parliament. They quote a number of precedents that allow for recall.

Strong language

On the second page, the MPs accuse Johnson of not respecting parliamentary democracy and adopting populism.

They also referred to the “discredited rhetoric of the Leave campaign”. This rhetoric includes the exaggerations and downright lies disseminated by Vote Leave, the campaign group which Johnson fronted. The Canary published examples of these lies.

On 14 August, The Canary published details of a cross-party parliamentary reportThe consequences of “No Deal” for UK business. It concluded that no-deal Brexit:

could lead to severe disruption of the economy, pose a fundamental risk to the competitiveness of key sectors of the UK economy, and put many jobs and livelihoods at risk.

The letter from the 113 MPs coincided with the publication by the Sunday Times of a leaked Cabinet Office report, marked ‘official sensitive’. It outlined a worst case scenario for no deal Brexit.

According to Sky News, the report made it clear that a no-deal Brexit could lead to shortages of food, fuel and medicine, as well as a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A senior Whitehall source said:

This is not project fear – this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no-deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.

Operation Black Swan

The Sunday Times reported that worst case scenario planning is referred to as “Black Swan”. The black swan reference originates from a book by risk analyst Nassim Taleb. The Black Swan planning comes under Operation Yellowhammer, the main contingency planning operation.

Yellowhammer covers 12 risk areas (source: Cabinet Office via the Guardian):

War footing

In March 2019, the Ministry of Defence announced that under the auspices of ‘Operation Redfold’, around 3,500 military personnel would be readied for deployment in the event of no-deal. The plan also included the deployment of several hundred reservists. The operation would be run by the Defence Crisis Management Centre, headquartered in a nuclear-proof bunker, known as Pindar, in Whitehall.

More than 10,000 riot police are also prepared to intervene in riots and other disturbances and ready for “worst-case scenarios”. Of those officers earmarked for deployment, 1,000 are trainedin the use of armoured vehicles and water cannons.

Rebellion

But despite these threats by the Johnson gang, there are signs of rebellion.

The 113 MPs who signed the letter to Johnson didn’t mince their words. Indeed, the language in the letter is probably unprecedented in its tone.

But the next step in this rebellion could involve far more than a letter by parliamentarians. For if the worst scenario takes place, there are people’s livelihoods, if not lives, at stake.

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