What Operation Yellowhammer means for you: Food, water, disorder

A shopper with a trolley walks past the empty bread shelves in a supermarket as people stock up before bad weather. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Operation Yellowhammer, the government's confidential no-deal Brexit planning document, has been released.

The six-page confidential dossier outlines what could reasonably be expected to happen in the event of the "worst case" scenario.

It warns of disruptions to supply chains and crucial data flows, says that low-income groups will be "disproportionately affected" by price increases, and notes that there could be panic buying, protests, and a rise in public disorder and community tensions.

Here is what it means for you.


The Operation Yellowhammer document says that "certain types of fresh food supply will decrease," and that critical parts of the supply chain, such as ingredients, chemicals and packaging, "may be in shorter supply".

Noting that there will not be an "overall shortage of food in the UK," the document warns that these factors will nonetheless "reduce availability and choice of products and will increase price."

This "could impact vulnerable groups," the document says, point out that the country's supply chain would already be under pressure on 31 October due to preparations for Christmas.

"There is a risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption, the document warns.


While the document says that public water services "are likely to remain largely unaffected" thanks to counteractive measures taken by water companies, it warns that there is a "low" risk of a "failure in the chemical supply chain."

This is what the document calls the "most significant single risk", and could affect hundreds of thousands of people.

"Water companies are well prepared for any disruption; they have significant stocks of all critical chemicals," the document says.

The document nonetheless says that "urgent action may need to be taken to make sure people continue to have access to clean water."


The document notes states simply that "protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource."

"There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions," it says.

It notes in a separate section that low-income groups will be "disproportionately" affected by certain consequences of a worst-case scenario.

Data disruption

The document warns that the EU "will not have made a data decision with regard to the UK" before Brexit.

"This will disrupt the flow of personal data from the EU where an alternative legal basis for transfer is not in place", the document notes.

For the average consumer, it means that websites like Facebook may become inoperable, since those sites store most of their user data in the EU. From a business perspective, it makes difficult the day-to-day transfer of information crucial to the operation of many firms — particularly financial services firms, most of which operate on a cross-border basis.

In another section, the document warns that "some cross-border UK financial services will be disrupted."

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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