The UK’s Ministry of Defence is scraping for 3000 soldiers to assemble the required number of personnel in preparation for a no-deal Brexit, with contingency plans including use of military to assist at ports and airports, according to reports.
Preparation for a no-deal Brexit is the “highest priority” of Britain’s Ministry of Defence, the department’s top civil servant has revealed in a letter to staff.
According to media reports, a number of no-deal war games will be held by the armed forces in the coming days, culminating in a cross-government exercise towards the end of February.
The military’s contingency planning is designed to assist the government in case of any disruption – such as blockages with the flow of goods in and out of the country – if the UK leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
If negotiators on both sides of the channel fail to reach an agreement, UK military chiefs may also recruit civil servants from the MoD and its other agencies to assist the government with potential disruption.
As part of the cross-government no-deal contingency planning, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, Westminster could call on soldiers set to respond to a military crisis overseas and redeploy them in Britain instead if the need arises.
Other details of the defence contribution to Operation Yellowhammer include:
- The need to identify and prepare around 3,000 soldiers who are set to comprise the majority of the 3,500 military personnel that will be available for no-deal duties, such as assisting with freight at ports and airports. Training is due to start next month.
- An awareness that selected troops could include soldiers on readiness to respond to a military overseas, potentially impacting on the UK’s ability to deploy if they are needed for no-deal Brexit duties as well.
- An acknowledgement that military infrastructure may be needed to store freight or to accommodate troops and other personnel if large numbers of people are surged around the country to help manage any disruption.