Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, which represents thousands of workers in all aspects of the UK’s oil industry, has accused the government of suppressing vital information on the future supply of petrol in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Operation Yellowhammer

Unite’s alarm has grown after the publication of the Operation Yellowhammer document and the redaction of paragraph 15. In the original leaked document published in the Sunday Times this section referred to oil refineries and predicted that two of the UK’s six refineries may be forced to close as a result of a no deal Brexit.

Unite is concerned about the future of all six UK oil and chemical refineries due to the government’s plans to introduce zero tariffs on European Union petroleum products in the event of a no deal Brexit, while tariffs would apply to UK exports.

No level playing field

By destroying the level playing field and with the fact that most UK refineries are owned by companies based abroad, Unite fears that all the UK’s refineries will suffer from a lack of investment at best and complete closure at worst.

Allowing cheap imports of petrol and other products into the UK, would in the long-term lead to an increase in costs and major strategic problems about the security of a supply, with the UK becoming entirely reliant on foreign refineries.

Industry concern

Unite has been working in parallel with the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) and the wider industry about these concerns but the government has not engaged with the sector’s fears.

The fears over the future of the UK’s refineries follows the alarming revelation, last week, that the government is preparing to call in the army to operate a fleet of 80 oil tankers in the event of a no deal Brexit.

No-deal Brexit

Unite national officer Tony Devlin said: “It appears the government is once again suppressing information that a no deal Brexit won’t cause huge issues for the short and long-term supply of fuel in the UK.

“This is a crucial matter for everyone in the UK and yet when the industry tries to speak to the government it is failing to engage. In short this is about the future of a secure fuel supply in the UK.

"The current uncertainty means that our members are being left fearful for their jobs.

"Once again the government is flailing about, proposing to bring in troops to drive tankers which is entirely unnecessary but is not prepared to act to preserve the UK’s oil refineries, which are of crucial importance.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.