Brexiteers will say it is the ultimate in “project fear”, but it’s claimed the nation could be caught short by a scarcity of toilet roll after the UK leaves the European Union.
Remainers will insist it shows Brexit is going down the pan, but a manufacturer has suggested some toilet paper supplies might not withstand long-term border delays or panic buying in the event of no-deal.
The closet fears emerged after an MP, Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards, asked a government minister for details on how long stocks of toilet paper will last after a no-deal Brexit.
Clearly flushed, Cabinet Office minister Simon Hart said the Government was working to ensure the “best possible preparation” to support the flow of goods.
“The government would prefer to leave the EU on October 31 with a deal,” said Mr Hart. “If this is not possible, we will have to leave with no-deal.
“In the event of no-deal, the government will prioritise the flow of goods at the border while continuing to take a risk-based approach to controls and checks on goods to minimise additional friction.”
He added: “We will continue to work to make sure we have the best possible preparation to support the flow of goods.”
But Mr Edwards suggested Mr Hart was guilty of a tissue of lies: “This is the farcical level we have descended to,” he said.
“The British government can no longer even guarantee we have the necessary supplies of toilet paper in a crash-out Brexit.
“It’s already said it’s willing to flush the economy down the toilet, but now we won’t have the paper to clean up after.
“As much as this revelation lends itself to toilet humour, it shows the serious damage a no-deal Brexit would do, even to our most basic of supplies.”
The chain of parliamentary exchanges prompted Essity, which makes the Velvet and Cushelle toilet paper brands for the UK market, to say it was developing “robust contingency plans” across its supply chain to cope with no-deal, but warned that stocks were “not unlimited”.
An spokeswoman said: “As far as possible, Essity is developing robust contingency plans across the whole of our supply chain to mitigate any short-term risks following a ‘no-deal’ or ‘hard’ exit of the EU.
“However, stocks are not unlimited, and some will not withstand long-term border delays outlined by the government or in the event of consumer panic buying.”
The company manufactures tissue in the UK and said it had built stocks of raw materials and spare parts to ensure supply in the event of short-term border delays.
It is also holding stocks of finished products that are imported or exported between the UK and EU.