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Fri 19 April 2019
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Snow has shut schools, emptied supermarkets and left motorists stranded. A glimpse of what No Deal Brexit might bring? You ‘ain’t seen nothing yet says Otto English.

Last night my sister-in-law went to the supermarket to get some bread, only to find that it had all sold out. Not a single flake had fallen in the rural town where she lives, but everyone was already panic buying in anticipation of the coming snow. Similar stories were trundled out on social media. In some places, there were reports of shops running out of basic essentials altogether.

On the BBC weather and evening news we were advised to make ‘only essential travel’ and to avoid going out after 9 p.m.

When the snow finally came —  light as it was in many places —  bedlam ensued. Flights were cancelled. Hundreds of schools closed. Southeastern trains initiated their ‘winter timetable’ despite there being little more than a light dusting in the region.

Seemingly oblivious, Leave MPs and hard Brexiters have been busy across the media networks all week telling us reassuringly that there is ‘nothing to fear’ from a ‘managed’ No Deal Brexit.

The United Kingdom is skating across thin ice with a drunk at the wheel. This isn’t a game —  or a difficulty that can be dismissed with reassuring words and Farage’s Rothman infused laugh.

‘Everything will be fine’ seems to be the Brexit mood-music – because our ancestors survived the Great Plague and Dunkirk and the Battle of Agincourt. Well maybe they did, but a modern country that struggles to deal with a few inches of snow is unlikely to handle the chaos that inevitably happens when major supply chains go down.

And then there’s that irritating ‘managed’ bit. Saying you can have a ‘Managed No Deal Brexit’ is like saying you can have a ‘managed’ car crash on the fast lane of the M2. It’s reckless gibberish.

No Deal is not like running out of biscuits. It means quitting the EU and its institutions with whom we have been inexorably wed for 45 years with no agreements in place on trade, security, medicine, law, citizens’ rights, food safety, or border control.

No Deal means millions of EU citizens living in the UK and 1.3 million Britons in the EU being consigned to limbo. The EU is our biggest trading partner. It supplies a third of our food and more than half of our fresh fruit and vegetables.

Saying you can have a ‘Managed No Deal Brexit’ is like saying you can have a ‘managed’ car crash on the fast lane of the M2. It’s reckless gibberish.

If basic essentials run out when there’s a bit of snow imagine the impact if all our ports shut down. There would be civil disorder. Government knows that, which is why it has stockpiled food and medicine and put the army on standby. But despite being wholly cognisant of the danger —  May refuses to take No Deal off the table —  opting instead to play chicken with the country only to placate a few angry back-benchers.

The United Kingdom is skating across thin ice with a drunk at the wheel. This isn’t a game —  or a difficulty that can be dismissed with reassuring words and Farage’s Rothman infused laugh.

It’s time for the lucid members our ruling class to face up to the coming disaster pull the handbrake hard – and buy us time before we disappear beneath the ice.

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