Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

'This isn't project fear, this is project reality' says bishop on Operation Yellowhammer

Thu 12 Sep 2019
By Cara Bentley

Bishop Nick Baines, the Church of England's speaker on Brexit, has spoken of his fears over a no deal Brexit telling Premier the Old Testament is full of examples of people ignoring warnings.

The Government has been forced to release details of its no deal planning from 2nd August.

The 'Operation Yellowhammer' document, described as the "reasonable worst case planning assumptions", says there could be severe extended delays to medicine reaching the UK if plans aren't put in place and that "low income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel' if unmitigated.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Government is working "every day" to mitigate the potential effects.



Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds and the Church of England's lead on Brexit, told Premier he was concerned with all of the Operation Yellowhammer document, but particularly the prediction that the poor would be hit hardest.

"We have an obligation to speak up for those who are least resilient to the sort of shocks that might be coming our way and we will keep doing this, even though it's not very popular in certain circles," he said.

"We have to have what's been called a bias to the poor, but also, from Proverbs, [we have a duty] to open our mouth for the dumb, for those who don't have a voice. At local level this means parishes and churches paying attention to the real needs locally of the poorest people - that might be to do with food banks, it could be to do those sorts of things but we need to keep our eyes open."


Diocese of Leeds/PA Wire


He acknowledged that the government has already paid some attention to mitigating some of the possibilities of a no deal Brexit but added: "I think Christians have to be concerned with honesty and with truthfulness and with justice and we need to look the potential reality in the eye. This isn't project fear - this is the government's own work. This is project reality."

"The prophets of the Old Testament are riddled with people who didn't want to hear messages that they thought were not to their benefit - messages of reality, Jeremiah - you can go into these military alliances with Egypt to be one while the great empire looks over the border, but it isn't going to work, and of course, it didn't and they all went into exile, Jeremiah went with them.

"Listening to unpopular news is something that we shouldn't just write off but we should ask for the evidence and truthfulness."

Ed Rennie, a Catholic political commentator from Left of Centre Brexit, disagreed and told Premier's News Hour the document is designed to set out the potential problems in order to know when they are no longer to be feared.

"Operation Yellowhammer is civil servants outlining a worst case scenario. So, in order to prepare for no deal, any sensible preparation is going to involve outlining what would happen if everything went wrong and we did absolutely nothing between writing this document and leaving the EU without a withdrawal treaty.

"There's no reason for anyone to feel fear or anxiety and we can be hopeful about leaving the European Union and implementing the referendum decision to leave the EU and what is good about this document is it means they're actively looking at what they need to prepare to make sure it doesn't go wrong."


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