Civil unrest is not a joke
I think the fragility of both our food supply chain and civilised society is underestimated.
If we abandon Brexit, a few EDL-types will kick off somewhere for a few hours and probably torch a some buses.
If we leave with no deal, under DExEU's own scenario planning (and not the worst case) the port of Dover will collapse on day 1 (i.e. 30 March 2019). Why? Because there simply isn't space to process the volume of trucks going through the port. Just a few minutes of processing time per truck rapidly adds up to a 20-30 mile queue.
Supermarkets will start running out of food within days, starting with the extremities in Cornwall and Scotland. This will spread nationally.
The above isn't my assertion, it comes from the Department for Exiting the EU.
The gridlock that began at Dover will extend to all ports of entry within a couple of days. At that point we are in serious trouble and it cannot be rectified quickly.
If the above is seen to begin there will be panic buying on a massive scale. That will cause the supermarkets to run out of food nationally within a matter of hours. Supermarkets in Britain rely on multiple JIT deliveries per day. Once those trucks stop arriving, the entire system breaks down.
You know what it's like at Christmas when the supermarkets are closed for one day - the shelves are often empty of basic staples. We have seen natural disasters such as the flooding in New Orleans have similar repercussions. This is far more serious.
Once they have gone without food for a couple of days, hungry people are going to become angry people and they are going to take to the streets in groups, either to look for food, or in more central locations, to look for the people that caused this to happen. Virtually everyone is going to be hungry. I in no way advocate this, but I predict that the life expectancy of certain politicians might be measured in hours in this scenario as the mob goes hunting.
Is the Government planning for this? Yes, they claim to be.
Are they stockpiling food? Yes, they claim to be or claim they are about to.
We haven't had emergency stockpiles of food since the Cold War. All of the MAFF Buffer Depots and the food stocks were sold off in the 1990s. Sure, the Government can lease warehouse space, but the Buffer Depots were positioned in locations where they would be less at risk of looting, i.e. generally not in towns or cities.
There has been talk of using the RAF to fly supplies around the country. Frankly, this is pissing in the wind. There are 66 million people that will need food. The military are not going to be able to supply even a fraction of 1% of the population - and they will be busy keeping their own supply lines open.
Hungry people aren't likely to go to work, because they will be more interested in finding food, or figuring out whether mayo or ketchup goes best with shoe leather. Once people stop going to work, non-essential services start to break down. Food supplies will be provided for essential personnel such as the military, police, ambulance, fire, etc. but not for their families - this will cause familial difficulties and reduce effectiveness of the personnel involved.
After a few days of no food in the shops, widespread looting will occur as panic starts to set in. This will not be limited to shops. Any source of food will be a target: houses, corner-shops, supermarkets, petrol stations, warehouses, etc.
At this stage martial law will be declared, possibly localised to large towns and cities, under emergency powers granted by the Civil Contingencies Act and a curfew will be imposed.
If all active service personnel and reservists are mobilised in a policing role and combined with the total police manpower, they are outnumbered by civilians by over 200:1, which rises to over 400 : 1 if one assumes they operate a 12-hour shift (eg. 4-on, 4-off) . Those aren't good odds. Even well armed, they do not have the capacity to control every street in the country. As a result, they are likely to try to contain key installations, towns and cities. Most medium sized towns and smaller may be unprotected, which will result in total anarchy in more densely populated locations.
What about that stockpiled food? During the height of the Cold War when food stockpiles were at their largest, we had 6.5 million tons of food in 136 stores dotted around the country. The expected ration supply was 1200 calories per day, and for a greatly reduced post-nuclear-attack population. If supplies were at this level they could last for about 2 weeks, assuming that they could be distributed effectively. That might be enough time to restore the supply chain.
Do I think this will happen? No, because the Government knows this is the risk they are taking and they won't go through with it - possibly for reasons of personal safety.
Do I want this to happen? Absolutely not, this would be the worst possible outcome, but there are some cavalier attitudes out there thinking this scenario is impossible. It isn't.