The military may be drafted into airdrop food to the Channel Islands under emergency plans drawn up by the UK government to protect Britain if a second coronavirus wave coincides with a no-deal Brexit.
A Cabinet Office “reasonable worst-case scenario” document, leaked to The Sun newspaper, also warns the Navy may be needed to stop British fishermen clashing with illegal European fishing boat incursions.
The classified document, dated July 2020, further warns that if trade restrictions triggered by a no-deal Brexit are combined with floods, flu and another coronavirus wave, then hospitals in the United Kingdom may be overwhelmed.
It also says parts of the UK may face power and petrol shortages if thousands of lorries are stranded in Dover while shortages of medicines caused by port blockages could lead to animal diseases spreading through the countryside.
A UK government spokesperson said “As a responsible Government we continue to make extensive preparations for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case.
“This is not a forecast or prediction of what will happen but rather a stretching scenario. It reflects a responsible Government ensuring we are ready for all eventualities.”
Deputy Gavin St Pier, Guernsey's Chief Minister, says that a slowdown in negotiations between the UK and the European Union is 'no great surprise' - but that the experience of managing the coronavirus pandemic and contingency plans already in place mean the island is well positioned to deal with any potential fallout.
We cannot be complacent but I am confident any risks can be effectively managed and mitigated as we continue to plan for all possible outcomes and eventualities following the UK’s exit from the EU on the 31 January 2020 and the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020.
He also said that the government will need to be 'firm' in representing the interests of the Bailiwick.
Jersey's External Relations Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, says the government is working behind the scenes to negotiate a future trading relationship with the EU.
Building upon the extensive cross-government planning for a possible No Deal prior to the UK’s exit from the EU earlier this year, as well as all of the work done tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to prepare for all possible eventualities; this includes a ‘No Further Negotiated Outcome’ as a result of the ongoing negotiations, and any potential disruption this could cause.
Much of the concern around Brexit's impact on supply chains centres around potential delays at Portsmouth, with fears that freight bound for the Channel Islands may not be able to get through.
Condor Ferries oversees around 80% of foods imported to the Channel Islands. CEO Paul Luxon says he has received assurances that the company's berth slots will be protected, that Channel Islands-bound freight will be fast-tracked and that supply chains to the islands will be able to run on time.
Mark Cox, Chief Executive of the Channel Islands Co-Operative Society, says that the risk of a Brexit and Coronavirus double-whammy is a potential challenge - but he says the company and its suppliers have contingencies in place should the worst case scenario occur.
Every time we had an issue with Brexit as we lead up to the date has been challenging for us to understand what's going to happen. We've got some history, we are well planned as are our suppliers in the UK. But the combination of that with Covid could be problematic for us. But we're working hard to mitigate all of those different circumstances.