Brexit planners are examining the possibility of martial law in Britain in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, it has emerged.
Whitehall officials are looking at how to use powers available under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to stop civil disobedience after the UK leaves the EU.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, the legislation gives ministers the power to impose curfews, travel bans, confiscate property and deploy the armed forces.
A source told the newspaper: “The over-riding theme in all the no-deal planning is civil disobedience and the fear that it will lead to death in the event of food and medical shortages.”
The newspaper quoted another source as saying that planners were using the disruption caused by the volcanic ash in Iceland during 2010 as a model for possible disorder.
The source added: “Although there is nothing that can replicate the scale of chaos threatened by a no-deal Brexit, which will be about a thousand times worse than the volcanic ash cloud crisis, this is about the closest example we have in modern British history.
“The only other thing that would be comparable would be something like a major Europe-wide war.”
Responding to the news, Labour MP and Best for Britain campaign supporter David Lammy said: “This is a full-blown crisis.
“The government is recklessly drawing up plans for a colossal act of self-harm.
“Through continuing on the path to Brexit, despite having achieved no consensus on a deal in parliament, the government is preparing to declare war on itself.
“The idea that the government has any mandate for this catastrophic scenario is ludicrous.
“The Leave campaign promised a stable new trading relationship with the EU after Brexit, not total isolation and soldiers in our airports.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Respecting the referendum decision means leaving the EU.
“The PM has said that there will be disruption in the event of no deal, but as a responsible government we are taking the appropriate steps to minimise this disruption and ensure the country is prepared.”
Also, the government is seeking to extend MPs’ working hours in order to get Brexit legislation completed before the scheduled withdrawal date of 29 March.
Parliament’s February recess will be cancelled, and MPs will have to start earlier and finish later on sitting days.
Meanwhile, defence minister Tobias Ellwood broke ranks and insisted a no-deal scenario must be ruled out by the government.
Mr Ellwood wrote in the Sunday Times: “It is wrong for government and business to invest any more time and money in a no-deal outcome which will make us poorer, weaker and smaller in the eyes of the world.”
But in the same newspaper, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said efforts by some backbench MPs to kill the no-deal option via a series of Commons amendments on Tuesday were a “thinly veiled attempt to stop Brexit”.
Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to take the prospect of a no-deal off the table, after her withdrawal agreement deal was rejected at Westminster by an overwhelming 230 votes earlier this month.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford is to table an amendment on Monday calling on Mrs May to note the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Commons all voted “overwhelmingly” to reject her deal.
The SNP will also seek an extension to Article 50 – the mechanism which triggered the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – call for a no-deal Brexit to be ruled out, and demand that Scotland should not be taken out of the EU “against its will”.
A government spokeswoman said: “We are leaving the EU on March 29. The choice is between a deal or no-deal. It’s time for all MPs to get behind the Prime Minister’s deal and avoid a no-deal.
“We are engaging extensively with businesses and people in Scotland, as well as with the Scottish Government.”
The amendments will be voted on by MPs on Tuesday.
(c) Sky News 2019: Brexit planners could use martial law against civil disobedience