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‘Operation Yellowhammer’: Codename of UK’s Brexit ‘no-deal’ prep familiar to Alabamians

The United Kingdom’s “secret government dossier” detailing preparations in case Brexit occurs later this year without a deal first being struck with the European Union has been leaked, and the plan’s codename is one that Alabamians will take interest in.

The Sunday Times over the weekend reported that it has obtained the report, “Operation Yellowhammer,” in full.

While the newspaper quipped that the codename would more appropriately be “Operation Chaos,” the internal government report could foreshadow devastating consequences if the UK, now led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, does not reach an exit deal with the European Union before severing ties. Johnson, unlike former PM Theresa May, has strongly signaled he is willing to leave the EU without a deal being in place first.

Operation Yellowhammer is best summarized as the UK’s comprehensive “no-deal contingency planning.”

According to Sky News, the report covers 12 “areas of risk,” including movement of goods and people across borders, UK food and water supplies, healthcare and transport.

General issues expected include delays at the border for the flow of goods lasting up to six months; food shortages; price increases for utilities, fuel and food; and increased checks for UK citizens traveling to Europe.

The Sunday Times reported that Operation Yellowhammer predicts:

  • A three-month “meltdown” at British ports because 85% of lorries using the main Channel crossings “may not be ready
  • A hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will be likely
  • Shortages of food and medicine
  • Petrol import tariffs “inadvertently” leading to the closure of two oil refineries
  • Protests across the UK which could “require significant amounts of police resources”
  • Gibraltar facing up to four-hour delays at the border with Spain for “at least a few months”

While Alabamians have known “yellowhammer” as their official state bird since 1927, a different subset of the species is well known in the UK, likely accounting for the operation’s codename.

Sky News reported, “A yellowhammer is an at-risk bird, which has suffered recent population decline, found across large parts of the UK.”

The UK subspecies is known as “E. c. caliginosa,” except in southeast England, which is home to “E. c. citrinella.”

This is a different species entirely from Alabama’s state bird, which is actually a subspecies of the northern flicker, a type of North American woodpecker. In Alabama’s usage, Yellowhammer is colloquial for what is officially the eastern yellow-shafted flicker, or “C. a. auratus.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn