The Guardian view on Yellowhammer: the ugly truth about a no-deal Brexit | Editorial

Ministers insist it is a worst-case scenario. But with no new deal in sight, the dangers set out in a document they wanted to hide must be taken seriously

Even for a government that prides itself on high-handedness, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s vicious attack on consultant neurologist David Nicholl was a low point. Dr Nicholl, who drew up a risk register for the newly released Yellowhammer no-deal Brexit planning document, asked Mr Rees-Mogg, on live radio, what “level of mortality” he would regard as an acceptable price for leaving the European Union with no arrangements in place. Since this was a direct challenge to ministers’ strategy of trying to normalise what should be unthinkable, Mr Rees-Mogg’s anger was not surprising. His insolence, however, in comparing Dr Nicholl to the struck-off anti-vaccination campaigner Andrew Wakefield, proved too much for his frontbench colleagues and Mr Rees-Mogg was forced to apologise.

Now that Yellowhammer has been published, it is clear why Dr Nicholl felt compelled to confront him. No-deal Brexit is a recipe for chaos, with medical supply shortages near the top of a list of consequences that are already scaring people around the country. While the long-term impact of a bitter divorce is strategically more damaging than any initial shocks, even voters tempted to buy into Mr Johnson’s no-deal bluster could be put off by the prospect of two-day traffic jams, energy price rises, civil unrest or a lack of clean water.

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