Brexiteers are pouring scorn on reports that civil servants are secretly planning for the Queen to be evacuated from London in the event of unrest if the UK quits the European Union without a deal.
The measures are based on emergency proposals to rescue the Royal Family that were first devised in 1962, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, according to The Sunday Times.
“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,” a Cabinet Office source told the newspaper.
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Another government source told the Times that the evacuation plans had been “dusted off” for the sake of “sensible planning”.
“The decision to evacuate members of the Royal Family is based on whether or not their safety is compromised,” the source said. “But right now we have no concern about their safety.”
The Mail on Sunday also says that “Whitehall contingency planners have included among their ‘worst case’ scenarios the need to move the Royals to safe locations away from the capital”.
It is feared that Queen Elizabeth, who must remain politically neutral, could become the target of public anger should a no-deal Brexit occur.
Last month, she called for the British public to seek “common ground” and recommended “never losing sight of the bigger picture” in a speech to the Sandringham Women’s Institute “that was interpreted as a veiled reference to the toxic debate around Brexit”, says The Sunday Times.
Buckingham Palace has not commented on the evacuation claims, but Politico says “it’s worth noting that the Queen’s father, King George VI, stayed in the capital through much of WWII and the Blitz — so we’re not sure Queen Elizabeth II is going to be especially bothered”.
Whatever the case, Brexit-supporting MPs have reacted angrily to the reports.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith writes that the claims are simply “Project Fear on steroids”, in his column in The Daily Telegraph.
Arch-Brexiteer and backbench Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg also scoffed at the plans, describing them as a “wartime fantasy”.
“The overexcited officials who have dreamt up this nonsense are clearly more students of fantasy than of history. The Monarch’s place is always in the capital, as the late Queen Mother, wife of George VI, made very clear during the Blitz,” he told the Daily Express.
Andrew Neil, chair of The Spectator magazine, tweeted that the “opaquely sourced stories” are proof that “truly doth Brexit make some media mad”.
But Dai Davies, former head of royal protection at Scotland Yard, said: “If there were problems in London, clearly you would remove the Royal Family away from those key sites.
“This is a measure that is extremely unlikely to come to pass. [But] the powers-that-be need to have contingency plans for any eventuality.”
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