Earlier this month a Whitehall dossier containing overarching no deal Brexit contingency planning was leaked to the press. The document, code-named Operation Yellowhammer, highlighted how Britain would be left vulnerable without a deal and warned of shortages of fuel, medicine and food, protests, road blockades and direct action. No 10 briefings suggested the dossier was deliberately leaked by a former minster, but Philip Hammond said this would have been impossible as the Yellowhammer documented was dated August 2019 – after Boris Johnson’s new administration was in place.
Mr Hammond wrote: “According to the media, a Number 10 source has briefed that the Yellowhammer dossier was ‘deliberately leaked by a former Minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders’.
“The clear implication was that a Minister in the last government had retained, and then leaked, a copy of this document.”
He added: “It has now become apparent that the leaked document was, in fact, dated August 2019 and would not, therefore, have been available to any former Minister who is not serving in the current administration.
“Accordingly, I am writing on behalf of all former Ministers in the last Administration to ask you to withdraw these allegations which question our integrity, acknowledge that no former Minister could have leaked this document, and apologise for the misleading briefing from No.10.”
The former chancellor shared a copy of the letter on Twitter, and hundreds have commented on the post condemning Mr Hammond’s critique of the Government.
One person wrote: “Time to get behind your country Mr Hammond, and I don’t mean to stab it in the back…”
This point was supported by another who said: “I think your integrity is very much in question, Philip… send this from Brussels by chance?”
Another Twitter user called for the Remainer to stand down at the next general election, they said: “Hopefully at the next GE you stand down and allow the people to have proper representation.”
Another person wrote: “Thank you, Philip Hammond, for dealing in facts, not lies and propaganda.
“We are relying on you to withstand whatever is thrown at you and others who oppose No Deal.
“This is a dangerous Govt. who will stop at nothing to keep power.”
Labour is currently preparing a parliamentary bid to force the Government to publish up to date reports on the expected impact of a no deal Brexit.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary, has told Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister in charge of no deal planning, that the party will “not hesitate to use all parliamentary devices available” to compel ministers to publish all the Operation Yellowhammer documents.
One tactic could be a humble address to the Queen, which Labour used to force Theresa May to publish the full legal advice on her Brexit deal.
Speaking directly after the leak, Mr Gove said the report was old and since its publication, the Government has taken “significant additional steps to ensure that we are prepared to leave on October 31 deal or no-deal.”
He said: “Any prudent Government will always plan for absolutely the worst case.
“In the last three weeks there has been a significant acceleration in what we’ve been doing.
“Yes, of course there are challenges in leaving without a deal, but there are also opportunities after October 31 if we have left with a clean break.”