We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Brexit (Operation Yellowhammer)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 12th September 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

3. I, too, thank Paul Grice for his work and wish him well for the future.

We are closer than ever in our efforts to stop Brexit. The publication of the yellowhammer paper lays bare the mass disruption of our way of life that would come with a no-deal Brexit and yet that is what Boris Johnson’s Conservatives want to embrace. What is most shocking is that those horrors are the prediction of the Conservative Government, yet the Conservatives still plough on.

Can the First Minister tell us whether any of the details that were laid out in the yellowhammer paper that was published this morning were new to the Scottish Government? If they were, what new measures is she putting in place to mitigate that damage?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The publication of the yellowhammer planning assumptions yesterday lays bare for the public the horrors of a no-deal Brexit. It is shocking that it has taken so long for the information to be published.

I say very directly to Willie Rennie, in terms of yellowhammer planning assumptions, what we in the Scottish Government have seen is what was published last night. The only difference that I can confirm is in the title of the document. The version that we had, had the title “Base” scenario rather than “Reasonable Worst Case” scenario, which is what appeared on the document that was published last night. It is for the United Kingdom Government to explain whether there is any significance to that difference.

The document is dated 2 August and we have been expecting an update of it, which we have not yet received. We also receive the papers for the cabinet sub-committee meetings that we are invited to, which has only been four meetings out of around 30 since the new Government took office. The Deputy First Minister has just come from one of those meetings this morning. We also know that there is a series of mitigation plans lying behind the planning assumptions.

With regard to our work, we are planning on the basis of the yellowhammer assumptions—although we continue to await the update of that document—and we have a range of mitigation plans in place. We are currently considering what format of the information it would be most helpful to publish, and we intend to make a statement to Parliament about that as soon as possible.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

The issue is affecting real people’s lives right now. Anna-Ruth Cockerham from St Andrews has a chronic condition called functional neurological disorder. She takes controlled medication that can be prescribed for only 28 days at a time. Any break in medication worsens her seizures and the pain can last for weeks. Her prescription is due at the end of October and she is anxious about her health in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Those are the real-life consequences of the Conservatives’ cavalier approach to Brexit.

Anna-Ruth wants the Government to allow prescriptions of such controlled drugs to be issued two weeks early, to ensure that there is no break in the supply. Has the First Minister made arrangements for that to happen?

The First Minister:

I am happy to provide more information on that specific point. We are doing everything that we can to mitigate any impact on drugs and medicine supplies. Obviously, the key player in this is the UK Government, and to some extent we are dependent on the information flow that comes from it.

We have a range of mitigation plans in place. I undertake not only to Willie Rennie, but to Parliament generally, as I said a moment ago, to consider how we best publish the information about assumptions as well as our mitigation plans, which will inform Parliament and the wider public.

Willie Rennie is right to say that it beggars belief and is completely outrageous that we have a Government that is prepared to contemplate a scenario that, as it says in the UK Government’s planning assumptions, could result in delays to the supply of medicine. The yellowhammer document that was published last night is very clear about the restrictions of stockpiling to mitigate against those impacts.

I share Willie Rennie’s deep concern about the matter and I share his anger that we are in this situation. I give an undertaking that the Scottish Government will do everything that it can to mitigate the impacts. However, I also have a duty to be frank with people. We will not be able to do everything to mitigate every impact, and it is important that, over the next few weeks, we have a very frank dialogue with this Parliament and with the wider public as we help members of the public to prepare as well as they possibly can.

The Presiding Officer:

There are a few further supplementary questions.