Guardian News and Media/ London
Ex-chancellor Philip Hammond has written to Boris Johnson to demand an apology from the prime minster for suggestions that he or other ministers in the previous government could have been behind the leaking of a dossier detailing Britain’s plans for a no-deal Brexit.
Blaming former ministers cast questions on their integrity, said the former chancellor, in a letter to Johnson of which he also tweeted a copy yesterday morning as the prime minister was engaged in the G7 meeting in Biarritz.
Hammond referred to media reports that quoted Downing Street sources as briefing that the details of Operation Yellowhammer — the codename for the cross-government civil contingency planning for the possibility of no-deal Brexit — had been deliberately leaked in an attempt to influence discussions with other EU leaders.
The clear implication was that a minister in the previous government had retained and then leaked, a copy of this document, added Hammond.
He said it had become apparent that the leaked document was, in fact, dated August 2019 and could not, therefore, have been available to any former minister not serving in the current administration.
“Accordingly, I am writing on behalf of all former ministers in the last administration to ask you to withdraw these allegations which question our integrity, acknowledge that no former minister could have leaked this document, and apologise for the misleading briefing from No 10,” Hammond said.
Leaked details of Operation Yellowhammer predicted that the UK would face a three-month meltdown at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine if it left the EU without a deal.
The documents predict severe extended delays to medicine supplies and shortages of some fresh foods combined with price rises as a likely scenario if the UK leaves without a withdrawal agreement, which is due to happen on October 31.
The letter marks an escalation in the war of words between No 10 and Hammond, who is leading a group of 20 Conservatives making clear their opposition to crashing out on October 31, over the Yellowhammer dossier.
Despite the document, leaked to the Sunday Times, being dated to earlier this month when Johnson was already in post, a senior No 10 source had told reporters last weekend: “This document is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available.”
“It has been deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders.
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