2019 is already off to a wild start between all the political turmoil going on stateside, and national tensions appear to be growing more heated in the United Kingdom, where British officials have reportedly “repurposed” Cold War-era emergency plans to evacuate Queen Elizabeth II amid fears of riots should Brexit––the impending withdrawal of the U.K. from the European Union––prove disruptive.
The Sunday Times first reported the news of the plans, “which were originally intended to be put into action in the event of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union” and would entail moving the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh out of London to a secret location. The Times has agreed not to disclose these plans in detail.
Whitehall has drawn up secret plans to evacuate the Queen in the event of riots following a no-deal Brexit https://t.co/Adf0QALbee— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) February 3, 2019
“These emergency evacuation plans have been in existence since the Cold War, but have now been repurposed in the event of civil disorder following a no-deal Brexit,” an unnamed source from the government’s Cabinet Office told the publication.
The news spread quickly.
💥Meanwhile Her Majesty is dragged into Project Fear as Cabinet Office draw up Brexit plan to evacuate Royal Family - sensational Glen Owen scoop: pic.twitter.com/H5c9pudzHp— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) February 2, 2019
The news comes as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to return to Brussels to fight for a Brexit deal. The British populace doesn’t appear too hopeful, however, and families “are anticipating a shortage of groceries and other staples, if the supply chain is disrupted because of customs delays and gridlock generated by the change in existing customs protocols,” according to at least one report.
If all of this sounds surreal, consider how the British feel about the matter.
bundling the queen into an escape pod and firing her into space to protect her from Brexit Lads— libby watson (@libbycwatson) February 3, 2019
2016: ‘No downsides to Brexit, only upsides!’— Toby Earle (@TobyonTV) February 2, 2019
2019: ‘GET THE QUEEN OUT OF HERE’ pic.twitter.com/lBo9OTUaF3
“Plan to evacuate Queen” in some kind of no-deal Brexit scenario - sound, realistic planning or Project Fear disappearing into the realms of parody? You choose...— alex thomson (@alextomo) February 3, 2019
The government:— James Felton (@JimMFelton) February 2, 2019
“We can’t have a second referendum because there’d be civil unrest”
Also the government:
“Good chance the riots will be so bad next month we’ll have to evacuate the fucking queen” pic.twitter.com/nWdFOctR1D
At least a few people are skeptical.
They didn’t evacuate the monarch during the second world war. It was a contingency plan in case Hitler invaded *successfully*. https://t.co/jry9nZftcQ— Charlie Stross (@cstross) February 3, 2019
Historian and screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann’s says her biggest fear is that people’s opinions on Brexit will have won over cold, hard facts.
Setting aside for a second the many absurdities of the whole “evacuate the Queen” thing: with respect to Alex Thomson, who is a great journalist, the big problem here is “You choose”. No, you don’t. Your opinions are completely irrelevant to what will happen. https://t.co/j6YrGBnEII— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) February 3, 2019
It’s only a form of words, but it’s also part of a culture of validating people’s bellyfeels, equating them with researched & considered expert opinion. No matter how often some slick disaster capitalist says “Project Fear”, that won’t put food on the shelves if it isn’t there.— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) February 3, 2019
She and journalist Alex Thompson, the chief correspondent on Channel 4, found themselves disagreeing over what the consequences of a no-deal Brexit could be.
Er - we just chose Brexit. The choice to be concerned or emboldened by such media stories is also entirely ours. I fancy the more this stuff goes on in MSM the more Brexiters will want out— alex thomson (@alextomo) February 3, 2019
Maybe. Or maybe they’ll just double down. I don’t know. I’m just worried that we’re still seeing the outcomes (still a very wide spectrum of those possible) as a matter of opinion, treating this as an exercise in positive or negative thinking rather than hard reality.— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) February 3, 2019
And here’s what we’re all thinking:
The final season of The Crown is going to absolutely berserk pic.twitter.com/8Dm0TZhZ8i— Stuart Heritage (@stuheritage) February 3, 2019
So what are some of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit?
To put it simply, a no-deal Brexit signals that the U.K. and the E.U. were unable to reach a withdrawal agreement and that there will be no 21-month withdrawal period to brace for the effects of the U.K reverting to World Trade Organization rules on trade and the price of goods rising as a result of businesses having to place tariffs on goods imported from the E.U. And while the U.K. would no longer have to make an annual £13 billion contribution to the EU budget, it would no longer be eligible for certain E.U. subsidies.
Additionally, the fate of 1.3 million Britons living in E.U. nations would be uncertain, and professionals would find that their qualifications invalidated as they lose their right to live and work in E.U. territory. The matter of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would also remain unresolved.