UK begins stockpiling at military bases to prepare for no-deal Brexit
Britain has begun stockpiling food, fuel, spare parts and ammunition at military bases in Gibraltar, Cyprus and the Falklands in case of a no-deal Brexit, Sky News has learnt.
Extra supplies are also being built up at bases in the UK to reduce the risk of the armed forces running short and being unable to operate if it suddenly becomes much harder to import and export day-to-day goods after 29 March.
Military chiefs have spent at least £23m on what is being described as “forward-purchased” materiel, Sky News understands.
The move is part of contingency planning by the government – codenamed Operation Yellowhammer – to reduce disruption if Britain departs from the European Union without an agreement, according to three defence sources.
“An army marches on its stomach. If supply lines breakdown they struggle,” one source said.
Any blockage in the flow of food and other vital items to Britain’s military bases overseas could impact on operations and affect thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen.
There is a concern that supplies delivered to British troops in the rest of Europe – the UK has a permanent presence in Cyprus and a base on the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, which shares a border with Spain – could be impacted, according to the sources.
Similarly, deliveries to Britain’s base in the Falklands could be affected by a no-deal Brexit, prompting military planners to start flying out additional rations in the past few weeks, the sources said. This is to ensure troops on the South Atlantic islands are not impacted in their ability to defend the overseas territory, the target of an invasion by Argentina in 1982.
At least one contract to supply goods is held by a company from an EU country, according to one source. The source said it was not yet known how a no-deal Brexit would affect the ability of that contractor to continue to deliver.
On the home front, preparations are underway to ensure servicemen and women can be fed and continue to operate vehicles and other equipment if imports become clogged up at ports and airports for a prolonged period.
A source said a small port used by the military in Southampton could become an important gateway for supplies heading in an out of the country.
Items “of national importance” will be accessible through Marchwood, the source said.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman, however, denied that the port currently featured as part of no-deal contingency planning.
Asked about the stockpiling of supplies, the spokesman said: “The Ministry of Defence routinely undertakes contingency planning, and it is absolutely right that the government ensures we are prepared and resourced for a range of scenarios when we leave the EU.
“We are working closely with industry partners, key suppliers and across government to ensure that essential defence tasks would not be affected by a no-deal Brexit.”
The spokesman added: “As part of wider contingency planning, we have forward-purchased a limited range of general commodities to ensure we can continue to function in the event of any supply chain disruption.”