Former British prime minister Gordon Brown has accused Boris Johnson of “hiding the information from the country” about the “devastating” impact of a no-deal Brexit.
As Downing Street confirmed that the UK Parliament will be prorogued at the close of business today, Mr Brown warned that leaving the European Union without a deal in place could hit imports of food and medicine.
And he insisted Boris Johnson must answer questions on such matters.
The former Labour leader said: “Boris Johnson and his ministers say that Britain is taking back control.
“But in reality, Britain is losing control – of our food supplies, of our medical supplies and of our manufacturing supplies.”
Speaking to the PA news agency before a No To No Deal rally in Glasgow today, Mr Brown said: “I think the truth is, no-deal is a risk to medical supplies, food supplies, a risk to the components that are coming in for British industry, it puts jobs at risk and he’s not wanting that to be debated.
“I think there are internal documents available to ministers that tell them of the risks that they cannot guarantee medical supplies or food supplies, and I think they are avoiding debate on this.
No government should be able to ride roughshod over the opinions of Parliament and when a law has been passed banning him from delivering a no-deal Brexit on October 31, he should be obeying it
“So, we have a no-deal Brexit, we have a no-debate Brexit, we have a no-democracy Brexit at the moment, and I think he is trying to hide the information from the country.”
Calling for internal Whitehall assessments of the risks of no-deal to be published, Mr Brown stressed that MPs had “an obligation, at all times, to use their judgment to weigh the balance of risks”.
Mr Brown said more than one million consignments of medical supplies arrive in the UK from Europe every day – with these amounting to more than 400 million a year.
He added: “We can stockpile and even fly medicines in, but the commercial director of the National Health Service foresees significant shortages for six months at least, and what he calls ‘serious shortages’ for three months.”
This could have an impact on supplies of the EpiPens used to treat allergic reactions, flu vaccines, radio isotopes used in cancer treatment, and the insulin needed to keep diabetes sufferers alive, the former PM said.
He also spoke out about the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on fresh food, noting that 28% of the UK’s food comes directly from the EU – with a further 11% coming from countries that have trade agreements with the EU.
The Prime Minister was accused of being “ideologically obsessed” with exiting the EU and “not looking at the facts that are before him”.
Mr Brown said: “When people are obsessed and become dogmatic and not pragmatic, and when they think they have to deliver something irrespective of the consequences, then they don’t look at the effects on ordinary people’s lives.”
He said: “We’ve got an amazing situation here – after only a few weeks as Prime Minister, he has difficulties with Parliament and he closes it down, he has difficulties with his ministers and he shuts them up, he has difficulty with his party and he throws the members out, he’s got difficulty with the constitution and he simply tears it apart, and of course he has difficulty with the law and he seems willing to consider breaking it.
“No government should be able to ride roughshod over the opinions of Parliament and when a law has been passed banning him from delivering a no-deal Brexit on October 31, he should be obeying it.”
He called on members of the public to make their views known about exiting the EU without an agreement, pointing to problems with food and medical supplies.
Mr Brown said a general election should come “at some point” but not before it is no longer possible for the Government to use it to push through a no-deal Brexit against the wishes of Parliament.
“It’s important to recognise that when the general election comes, Boris Johnson will have to answer for why he is riding roughshod over Parliament.”