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There was speculation Wednesday that the “Operation Yellowhammer” documents may have been altered prior to public release. The BBC reports that the documents were originally labeled “base scenario” and changed to “worst-case scenario,” likely to ease the public’s panic, as the documents show that a no-deal Brexit would be dire.
Speculation is rife surrounding the alleged actual worst-case scenario documents, similarily dubbed “Operation Black Swan.”
.@willie_rennie asks if any of the details published in the Yellowhammer documents were new to the Scottish government @NicolaSturgeon says the only difference was the document title changing from “base scenario” to “worst case scenario”— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) September 12, 2019
LIVE: https://t.co/hz9S9gjM5g #FMQs pic.twitter.com/FvK1mZQuuC
This is the Yellowhammer document received by the Scottish Government. No sign of the worst case scenario claimed by the UK government. pic.twitter.com/BDGXfyT217— Kirsten Campbell (@bbckirstenc) September 12, 2019
A reminder that the Feb Yellow hammer leak was 37 pages long.https://t.co/OhuGfC0ZO8— Fionna O'Leary, Rees Mogg Can Call me Sir #FBPE (@fascinatorfun) September 11, 2019
Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, whose responsibilities include preparing for a no-deal Brexit, denied the Black Swan allegations on Twitter.
“We don’t normally comment on leaks – but a few facts – Yellowhammer is a worst case scenario – v significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning – and Black Swan is not an HMG doc but a film about a ballet dancer…” Grove wrote.
We don’t normally comment on leaks - but a few facts - Yellowhammer is a worst case scenario - v significant steps have been taken in the last 3 weeks to accelerate Brexit planning - and Black Swan is not an HMG doc but a film about a ballet dancer... https://t.co/lRAgavfDze— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) August 18, 2019
Yet people remain unconvinced. Members of Parliament, British politicians, and others have alleged that they have seen the Operation Black Swan documents.
“I know those papers exist because I saw them in March & the updated versions must be published,” MP Anna Soubry wrote.
Yellowhammer - someone was having a laugh. So we are going to be reduced to a little bit of bread but no cheese?— Mel (@Melindola) August 18, 2019
I don't normally comment on propaganda - but a few facts - three years ago you told us this would never happen and it is your political party & its splits that have led us into this mess.— Andy Brown (@VoteAndyBrown) August 19, 2019
Thank you to everyone who is sending us parts of #BlackSwan. Dr Liz is going to review my briefing notes, and she will comment further soon.— Dr Liz Evenden-Kenyon (@EvendenKenyon) September 12, 2019
[email protected]#LibDemLiz #thursdaymorning #Brexitvote #Yellowhammer #yellowhamner
So called #Yellowhammer papers are not what the Govt has to publish. Not the detailed & frank assessments of preparedness or otherwise for #NoDeal nor the detail of the consequences. I know those papers exist because I saw them in March & the updated versions must be published.— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) September 11, 2019
Rosamund Urwin, a reporter for the Sunday Times, received the leaked Yellowhammer documents prior to the official release and confirmed the documents she received were labeled base scenario rather than worst-case scenario.
“What’s different about the new Yellowhammer document that the government has just published compared with the one I got hold of last month? The heading,” Urwin tweeted. “What did the version I had say? BASE SCENARIO Now what does the new one say? HMG Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions.”
What's different about the new Yellowhammer document that the government has just published compared with the one I got hold of last month? The heading.— Rosamund Urwin (@RosamundUrwin) September 11, 2019
What did the version I had say? BASE SCENARIO
Now what does the new one say? HMG Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions
People are now demanding to see the Operation Black Swan documents. “I strongly believe that there is more to #Yellowhammer than meets the eye. Where’s #BlackSwan?” one Twitter user asked.
Yellowhammer is the BASE SCENARIO for a No Deal Brexit.— James Melville (@JamesMelville) September 12, 2019
The worst case scenario for No Deal Brexit is contained in documents known as Black Swan which the government are still refusing to release. #Yellowhammer #BlackSwan
Some are associating Operation Black Swan with recent instructions from the British emergency services, asking the public to prepare emergency bags.
“#BlackSwan is why we are told by the Govt to get an emergency bag together with everything we need for survival when we are ordered from our homes. When extremists take over nothing can be predicted. It happens in other countries,” one Twitter user speculated.
Others tweeted depictions of the “Grab-and-Go Bags,” detailing exactly what is supposed to go in them: phone, charger, batteries, flashlight, radio, first aid kit, personal toiletries, seasonal clothing, food and water, whistle, pen and notepad, and an emergency plan.
#BlackSwan is why we are told by the Govt to get an emergency bag together with everything we need for survival when we are ordered from our homes. When extremists take over nothing can be predicted. It happens in other countries— buddug#FBPE~ultra Revoker (@pwsimerimiaw) September 12, 2019
Dear @polscotcontrol— Dougie🏴🇪🇺 (@DougieMacM) September 8, 2019
You have urged us to prepare an emergency #GrabBag.
However, I notice you recommend that it should include an Emergency Plan.
It seems impossible to formulate an emergency plan until you clarify the nature of emergency you anticipate.
Could you clarify? https://t.co/rgKCXL1FTO
This is ominous. Emergency services around the UK are tweeting that everyone should prepare a #GrabBag (including medication, copies of important documents, food, water, torch, radio & other personal items) in case you need to suddenly evacuate in an emergency. What’s going on? pic.twitter.com/4CxCFYTZmB— Sarah O'Connell (@SarahO_Connell) September 8, 2019
Ah. Well, the problem here, @michaelgove , is that no-one trusts a word that falls from your clearly lying lips anymore. Sorry. Too many fucking lies. #whatdidyouthinkmighthappen ? That we'd *believe* you? 😂 #Yellowhammer #BlackSwan #GrabBag #somuchforthesocialcontract https://t.co/Z1bcc3GGXo— Manda Brookman (@MandaBrookman) September 12, 2019
Overall, people are very upset over the Yellowhammer-Black Swan debacle.
#Yellowhammer is not the worst case scenario for #JohnsonsNoDealBrexit, it is merely the 'base scenario'. The worst case scenario is another report called #BlackSwan which @BorisJohnson's government are (again) trying to keep from the public... Why?#ReleaseBlackSwan pic.twitter.com/xtUo0iyu5n— The Agitator (@UKDemockery) September 12, 2019
This #Yellowhammer stuff, lacking in detail though it is: just remember, this is the ‘due diligence’ data that should have been done before any referendum was held. And we still haven’t seen the worst case, #BlackSwan.— Judi #FBPE #RejoinerNow 🖤 (@judi_sutherland) September 12, 2019
I am a #Health #coach I should be #Tweeting about juices and exercise, but it seems that our #wellbeing is the threatened by the very same people who should protect our rights. #Brexit #Yellowhammer #BlackSwan https://t.co/FMh35FxMSI— Claudia Armani Health Coach & Blogger (@HealthCoachLond) September 12, 2019
Wasn't #blackswan the plan for worst case scenario and #yellowhammer the likely outcome a few weeks ago?— Tyler Green (@HighTylerGreen) September 12, 2019
Are we living in #1984? Because that information switch is right out of the Ministry of Truth's handbook
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org