World

No-Deal Brexit: Police Warn of Panic Buying, Advise Stores to Increase Security Ahead of Britain Crashing Out of EU

British police are advising stores to beef up security measures to deal with panicked shoppers in case the country is forced to leave the European Union without reaching a withdrawal agreement.

According to a report published by Politico, London’s Metropolitan Police Service has warned that retailers may face a deluge of customers amid fears that a disorderly no-deal Brexit will disrupt food supplies as well as other vital goods like medicine and fuel.

Read more: When is Brexit? U.K. is lurching toward a no-deal nightmare

Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, though Prime Minister Theresa May has not yet been able to secure a withdrawal agreement with the bloc. The EU and government negotiators have finalized a draft deal, but the prime minister has been unable to successfully get the bill through the British Parliament.

The House of Commons is set to vote on May’s deal on January 15. However, most observers expect a resounding defeat for the prime minister given the fierce opposition to her plan from all sides of the House, whether Leavers or Remainers.

If no deal can be reached and no delay to Brexit agreed, the default outcome would be for the U.K. to crash out of the bloc and fall back on World Trade Organization rules, dislocating the economic links built over decades of cooperation with Brussels.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed that the service had recommended that retailers examine their security arrangements in case the country is thrown into the chaos expected from a so-called “cliff-edge” Brexit.

“We are suggesting to retailers that they may wish to consider planning for additional security in the event that concerns about shortages of goods leads to a significant increase in customers,” the spokesperson explained.

“We are having these conversations in order to minimize the demands on policing from any resulting large crowds or queues at shops and as part of our regular civil contingency engagement with businesses and partners.”

According to Politico, the service stressed that it did not expect to face looting or a widespread breakdown in order.

“In line with similar advice given at a national level to the retail industry, we are suggesting to retailers that they may wish to consider planning for additional security in the event that concerns about shortages of goods leads to a significant increase in customers,” the spokesperson said.

It is feared that congestion at the U.K.’s sea ports could constrict the supply of goods to the U.K. after March.

Many British politicians have said they would not allow a no-deal Brexit to happen, but it remains unclear how they intend to stop it.

Meanwhile, the government is expanding its preparation for the dreaded no-deal scenario. It has launched a new series of radio and social media advertisements to prepare citizens for the possibility, while up to 4,000 civil servants will be taken off their normal duties and assigned to no-deal contingency planning.

British police Brexit A police officer speaks with anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (left) during a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster in London on January 8. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Join the Discussion