No-deal Brexit could spark civil unrest ‘within two weeks’ warns UK head of Amazon

Online retailer becomes first company to issue such a warning

Harry Cockburn
Monday 23 July 2018 01:18
comments
Brexsplainer: Living standards, wages and prices

Leaving the European Union with no deal could prompt “civil unrest” within days, the head of Amazon in the UK has warned.

Doug Gurr told a meeting organised by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab that the online retail firm was now considering this worst-case outcome as part of their contingency planning.

Mr Gurr’s remarks make Amazon UK the first company to issue such a warning, and “stunned those present”, The Times reports.

In a statement Amazon UK said: “Like any business, we consider a wide range of scenarios in planning discussions so that we’re prepared to continue serving customers and small businesses who count on Amazon, even if those scenarios are very unlikely.

“This is not specific to any one issue – it’s the way we plan for any number of issues around the world.”

Mr Gurr’s warning was echoed by leading remain-voting Conservative MP Dominic Greave, who told Sky News a no-deal Brexit would be “absolutely catastrophic”.

“We will be in a state of emergency – basic services we take for granted might not be available,” he said.

The warnings come as Mr Raab refused to set out details of the government’s no-deal plan, despite him insisting the UK would “thrive”.

He condemned “hair-raising stories”, about food being stockpiled and motorways turned into lorry parks if the UK crashes out of the EU without a trade deal.

But he refused to go into what preparations the government was undertaking for such a scenario, beyond hiring more border staff.

He said: “We are ready for any and every eventuality.”

And he added: “All of that planning is under way, from every aspect of the infrastructure to the legal position to make sure we are ready for no deal and the Britain thrives.”

Mr Raab also accused Brussels of being “irresponsible” over its warning about EU citizens’ status in the UK, and UK citizens living on the continent, if Britain left without an overall agreement.

“I think that’s a rather irresponsible thing to be coming from the other side. We ought to be trying to reassure citizens on the continent and also here,” he said.

He also claimed, in a Telegraph article, that the UK could refuse to pay the £39bn-plus divorce bill to Brussels if a trade deal is not struck.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Mr Raab said he would return to Brussels on Thursday and would “strain every sinew” in an effort to reach a deal by October, ahead of the cut off-date to ratify a deal which would need to take effect by the end of March 2019.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments