UK's top general says the army is on standby to help deal with no deal Brexit

Written by Matt Foster and Nicholas Mairs on 12 November 2018 in News

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, revealed that the army was "thinking hard" about the implications of a no-deal Brexit

Image credit: General Sir Nick Carter Army

The army is on standby to help deal with the fallout of the UK leaving the European without a deal, the country's top general has said.

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, revealed that the army was "thinking hard" about the implications of a no-deal Brexit amid dire warnings about disruption to food and medicine supply chains.

But he denied reports that troops could be involved in doling out medication to hard-to-reach communities in the event of Britain leaving without a deal.

He told the Andrew Marr Show: "What we always do of course is to make sensible contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities, whether it's a terrorist attack or whether it's a tanker drivers' dispute, industrial action or whatever else it might be.

"And you'll be not surprised to hear that we make all those sorts of plans all the time."

He added: "At this stage, I think people are confident there'll be a deal. If there's not one then we stand ready to help in any way we can."

Asked whether the army could step in to curb disruption to medicine supplies, Sir Nick said: "We're not involved in that, no."

The forces chief said: "We're involved in thinking hard about what it might involve. But we've not been asked specifically to do anything at this particular stage."

The comments came as Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood confirmed that military top brass is making "full spectrum" contingency plans for "every single" Brexit outcome.

"We have to plan for every single scenario, so yes, there are contingency plans being made, there are discussions being held and behind the scenes as to what support our armed forces will do," he told Sky News's Sophy Ridge.

"We step forward to support the nation in various guises, whether from the flooding perspective, when the police require support or indeed supporting the Olympic effort…

"Likewise in the transition from Brexit, if there is a requirement to provide assistance, we are looking right across the full spectrum of requirements to make sure we are prepared and to necessarily stand up if asked to do so."

Earlier this year Downing Street was forced to deny reports that ministers had dusted off civil contingencies plans which would see troops hand out medicines, food and fuel to vulnerable communities under a no-deal.

The Sunday Times had reported that the armed forces would work with civilian authorities to keep supplies moving.

But Number 10 said there were "no plans to involve the army in a no-deal scenario".

They added: “I can’t be any clearer or firmer than that. I don’t know where the speculation came from but there are no plans."

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