Operation Yellowhammer! Official lets slip codename of government’s no-deal plan

Operation Yellowhammer! Blundering official lets slip dramatic codename of government’s no-deal plan as they expose briefing paper in Whitehall

  • Official accidentally exposed paper with codename of government no-deal plan
  • The Whitehall contingency preparations known as ‘Operation Yellowhammer’
  • Health Secretary has said taxpayer could face extra costs for some medicines

A blundering official today let slip the dramatic codename of the government’s no-deal plan – Operation Yellowhammer.

The striking title was revealed on a document accidentally exposed by a staffer as they walked into the Cabinet Office.

The Treasury paper, spotted by eagle-eyed photographers, is for a meeting to ‘consider progress on the government’s plans for mitigating the immediate impacts of a no-deal Brexit’.

It says departments should be managing the pressures from a collapse in negotiations by ‘reprioritising’ existing funding.

The briefing also suggests that officials should be looking at the situation of commercial firms that play a part in their contingency planning.

The Treasury paper (pictured) was spotted by eagle-eyed photographers, and is a briefing for a meeting to ‘consider progress on the government’s plans for mitigating the immediate impacts of a no-deal Brexit’

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The codename quickly triggered speculation about the significance of the word Yellowhammer. 

But it is understood the title was generated at random in Whitehall.

A Treasury spokesman said: ‘We don’t comment on leaked documents.’ 

The document emerged as Health Secretary Matthew Hancock admitted taxpayers face extra costs to stockpile drugs for a no deal Brexit.

Mr Hancock said the Government was in talks with pharmaceutical companies about footing the bill for services such as refrigeration.

He confirmed ministers had asked companies to build up stocks in case a no deal Brexit stops a supply of drugs flowing into Britain over land.

And Mr Hancock said there were further contingencies to switch supplies of medicine to the NHS to be flown in. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) and the Treasury have been under fire over stark warnings about the consequences of no deal

Asked if the plans would mean higher costs, Mr Hancock told the Today programme: ‘We won’t pay for the drugs themselves, because they will be sold on into the NHS, so we are not going to pay for them twice.

‘But we are talking to the pharmaceutical industry about the extra cost that they might have to incur in that eventuality. Of course, I hope it doesn’t come to that.’

Fears of a no deal Brexit are rising amid little agreement on Theresa May’s Chequers plan for a deal and a rapidly closing window to strike a divorce.

Hopes of getting a deal in place by a crucial summit in October are fading fast.  

Mr Hancock insisted today he was ‘increasingly confident’ that a deal with Brussels would be agreed.

The taxpayers faces extra costs to stockpile drugs for a no deal Brexit, Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured in Downing Street yesterday admitted today 

But he added: ‘It is important, as a responsible government, to make sure we prepare for all eventualities and therefore we have got to be ready for exiting without a deal.

‘Therefore we have proposed that there is stockpiling of medicines by the pharmaceutical companies, not by the NHS.’

He said the response had been ‘very good’ and ‘I am confident that if everybody does what they need to do then we can have an unhindered flow of medicines even in the event of a no-deal Brexit’.

He added that the existing contracts to supply drugs to hospitals need to be fulfilled.

‘The task is for the pharmaceutical companies to ensure that enough supplies are available to ensure that can happen,’ he said.



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