No, this is not a bird watching post but an article on 3 codenames for secret government reports on Brexit.
What is Yellowhammer? A Yellowhammer is a small bird with a song that is said to sound like “A little bit of bread and no cheese” and the term is now being used as a code name by government for work relating to a no-deal scenario for Brexit. It was in August 2019 that The Sunday Times reported on a document, code named Yellowhammer, that provided a realistic assessment of severe problems if the UK left the EU without a deal, including:
a three-month “meltdown” at channel ports with major hold-ups;
HGV delays at Dover between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half days;
a hard Irish border;
shortages of some foods and medicine import delays;
possible public disorder increase with protests and counter-protests; and,
a rise in community tensions.
The Government has dismissed the document as “scaremongering”, and a “worst-case scenario”, with extra funding being made available to mitigate any problems.
The Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the document showed a no-deal Brexit would punish those who could least afford it and must be stopped, while Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it was completely irresponsible for Government to have tried to ignore the warnings. The document was published because Parliament required this. Large parts of the document were still hidden.
Black Swan Kingfisher
There are rumours that two other secret documents, Black Swan and Kingfisher, exist, with Kingfisher looking at supporting British businesses suffering under a no-deal Brexit, and Black Swan, preparing for disaster!
This timeline of events will be updated through to the Brexit date of 31st October 2019 and beyond.
Politics Of Brexit
24 September 2019 – Not Lawful
The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled unanimously (11 Judges) that the decision to suspend Parliament was not lawful and that the prorogation was therefore null and void. The Speaker to the House of Commons, John Bercow, has called on Parliament to reconvene at 11.30am on Wednesday 25th September 2019.
11 September 2019 – Not Lawful
The Scottish Appeal Court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnston’s decision to prorogue (suspend) Parliament for 5 weeks until 14 October 2019 was not lawful. The UK Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on this next week, so no final decision or instruction on any action to be taken will happen before then.
Current Options And Actions Being Considered at 9 Sep 2019
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow announced in Parliament, on the afternoon of 9th September 2019, that he is standing down, no later than 31st October 2019, unless a General Election is called before that date.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnston is thought likely to call for a vote on a General Election today, 9 September 2019. He needs two thirds of MPs to vote for this. It is considered likely to FAIL, as MPs do not wish to risk the UK leaving the EU by default at 31st October, if they are in the middle of an election campaign.
Parliament is likely to be prorogued (suspended) after any failed election vote and will not sit again until 14th October 2019, on which day, the business of the House will be “The Queen’s Speech” (written by the government) which lays out the work to be done by Parliament in the coming session. During prorogation, MPs will not be able to sit in the House of Commons nor will there be any debates. It is possible that informal debates will take place elsewhere.
The emergency bill passed by Parliament to compel the Prime Minister to seek a 3 month delay in the UK’s departure from Europe (Brexit) if no deal has been struck by 19th October should become law today and receive the Queen’s assent. (The Queen is a constitutional Monarch, which means she is advised by the Government and Parliament on what laws should be passed.) If the Prime Minister refuses to request an extension after the October 19th deadline, he could theoretically, go to jail.
The EU has to OFFER an extension to the Brexit date, if they do not offer an extension, then the UK leaves without a deal on 31st October 2019 anyway.
France has said that they may vote against offering a Brexit extension and the government has suggested that this is one way forward for them, which would avoid the Prime Minister having to request an extension, which he has said he will not.
One of the barriers to agreeing a deal with the EU is the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) on the island of Ireland. This border is the only land border between the UK and the EU. The Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland, made this an open border with no barriers to trade or passage of people. If the UK leaves the EU, there may need to be border crossing points again. This would break the Good Friday Agreement and could lead to the return of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. One option would be instead, to have the border down the Irish Sea (the stretch of water between the island of Ireland and Britain), leaving the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland as it is. This however, would not be acceptable to the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, who would argue that this would be treating Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK. The Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnston is discussing this with the Taoiseach of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, today, 9th September 2019.
2 September 2019
The Prime Minister is now thought likely to call a General Election. Parliament returns from its summer break tomorrow, 3rd September 2019 and it is considered likely that a General Election will be called. This will require a two thirds majority of MPs agreeing to an election. Many will be wary of agreeing only to find that the election is held over 31st October 2019, allowing a no-deal Brexit by default. If an election is agreed, it is likely to be on 14 October 2019, before the Brexit deadline.
News has just been issued that the government is to ask the Queen to suspend parliament from a few days after it returns from its summer recess until 14 October 2019. The given reason is to allow the government to prepare a Queen’s Speech which sets out what the government will do in the coming session. MPs who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit are saying this is anti-democratic as it does not allow MPs to fulfil their democratic part in the process of dealing with Brexit.
WATCH THIS SPACE!
27 August 2017
Some of the Members of Parliament who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit met to discuss how they could prevent the UK crashing out of Europe without a deal. The meeting was fairly short and consensus appears to be that they will attempt to bring legislation before Parliament to force the government to request a further extension to the Brexit exit date of 31st October 2019. Other options they discussed included forcing a “vote of no confidence” in the Government and forming a government of national unity with representatives from all parties. Those options appear to be left in reserve.
Government Preparations For Brexit
On Sunday 18 August 2019, the Sunday Times newspaper published excerpts from leaked government documents, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, that are said to set out likely problems that could happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These include shortages of food, fuel and medicine, 3 months of chaos at ports and the possible return of a hard border in Northern Ireland. It now appears that there are two further disaster-scenario papers, code named Black Swan and Kingfisher which have not been published.
A Little Bit Of Bread And No Cheese
The yellowhammer is a bird that is widespread in Europe and Asia. Its song sounds like the phrase, a little bit of bread and no cheese. Was this code name just a coincidence?
Government Denial that “Yellowhammer” is Relevant
The new government formed under Prime Minister Boris Johnston says that this report is an old one, prepared for the previous government and that this government is working to ensure no chaos in the event of no-deal.
Sterling Exchange Rate September 2019
At midday on 3 September 2019, the sterling to US Dollar exchange rate is at 1.20 and with the Euro, stands at 1.10.
The pound to US Dollar exchange rate has started out the month of September at 1.21 and the Sterling to Euro exchange rate is at 1.1 on the news of a possible General Election.
Sterling Exchange Rate August 2019
The Sterling to US dollar exchange rate started July 2019 at 1.26, dropping to 1.22 by 31 July. It was said that this was the worst month for the pound since October 2016. On 1 August 2019, the exchange rate dropped to 1.21, a 2 year low, as the Bank of England kept the interest rate steady at 0.75%, stating that there was a 33% chance of a negative economic growth rate by the start of 2020, which could signal the start of a recession. By 4 August 2019, the pound had recovered slightly to 1.22.
On 9 August 2019, The Office For National Statistics (ONS) said that the UK economy had shrunk in Quarter 2 of 2019 (April to June). Sterling fell against both the US Dollar and the Euro, to $1.2097 and €1.0794. This has provoked fears that the UK could be on the verge of a recession. This is defined as a contracting economy in two consecutive quarters. One of the reasons is thought to be that many firms stocked up ahead of the initial Brexit date (29th March 2019) and did not need to buy any further stocks and that uncertainty has slowed spending.
On 19 August 2019, the pound sterling against the US dollar exchange rate is $1.21.
If you want to build up a stock of foods and other items, in case of problems at 31st October 2019, then you may find the Brexit Survival Journal useful for providing ideas on areas to check, items to stock and space to record your own information.
Boris Johnson Becomes Prime Minister
Wednesday 24 July 2019. Says Brexit will take place on 31st October 2019, deal or no deal and that the Irish backstop must be removed for a deal to take place. The EU has said that the backstop must remain.
Theresa May Resigns As Prime Minister
She tendered her resignation to H M The Queen, 24 July 2019
Parliament Indicative Votes
Indicative votes are where MPs vote to test the will of the House of Commons on a single issue by voting on a series of options on that issue. Votes were held on 27 March 2019 and a second round of votes on 1 April 2019.There was no majority for any of the options.
Article 50 Triggered
Article 50 – legislation that formally notified the EU that Britain would leave – was triggered on 29 March 2017. This led to the first leaving date of end of March 2019 – two years after Article 50 became law and was delivered to the EU. The leaving date was extended twice, finally to 31 October 2019.
Theresa May Elected As Prime Minister
13 July 2016, after being elected leader of the ruling Conservative Party
Prime Minister David Cameron Resigns
Friday 24 June 2016.
Referendum On Membership Of The EU
Thursday 23 June 2016. Britain voted 51.9% to 48.1% to LEAVE the EU, 43 years after joining it.
Britain Joined The EU
1 January 1973. (It was known as the EEC at that time – the European Economic Community.)
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