Council chamber
The council chamber has been empty during August

The leader of Greenwich Council has asked for a special council meeting to be held to discuss the likelihood of Britain crashing out of the European Union in nine weeks without a deal.

On Tuesday, 853 revealed that council staff could have to take charge of petrol rationing arrangements if freight queues on Kent’s motorway network meant fuel shortages at filling stations. The council is also liasing with supermarkets and NHS organisations about possible food and drug shortages should the UK’s trading arrangements with its neighbouring states come to a sudden halt on 31 October.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson arranged for parliament to be suspended for five weeks in September and October – curtailing the time available in the House of Commons for opposition and rebel Tory MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit. The Times reported today that the prime minister told his cabinet colleagues there was a “good chance” that Britain would leave with a deal and also a “good chance” it would leave without one, but that his move meant it would be more likely that the EU would offer a deal.

Danny Thorpe said on social media that Johnson’s actions were “nothing more than an attempt to subvert democracy”.

I have today written to the Chief Executive of @Royal_Greenwich to ask that a Special Council meeting is convened so we can explain how we are preparing for no deal, what we can’t control & to try to provide reassurance for our communities at this very worrying time. #Greenwich

— Dan Thorpe (@DanLThorpe) August 28, 2019

“If parliament is suspended at such a serious time for our country, it is incumbent on all of us in local government to ensure our communities understand the risks ahead and who is going to be responsible,” he added.

“I have today written to the chief executive of [Greenwich Council] to ask that a special council meeting is convened so we can explain how we are preparing for no deal, what we can’t control and to try to provide reassurance for our communities at this very worrying time.”

It is likely that a meeting would be slotted into a free date in September; there is no meeting of the council currently planned until 30 October – the day before Britain’s planned exit.

On Tuesday, the People’s Vote campaign – which is campaigning for a new referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU – released details of what London councils were attempting to plan for in the event of a no-deal exit, which included fuel, food and medicine shortages, problems with insurance and risks of civil unrest and increased crime.

The campaign told 853 that Greenwich Council had not responded to its Freedom of Information Act response request for a copy of its risk register.

By the early hours of this morning, nearly 1.1 million people across the country had signed a petition calling on the government not to prorogue parliament. 3,791 of those signatures came from the Greenwich and Woolwich parliamentary constituency, representing 2.93% of the electorate. 1,830 (1.92%) had signed in Eltham, while 825 (0.68%) had signed in Thamesmead.

853 produces public interest journalism for Greenwich and SE London and is part-funded by its readers. If you would like to contribute to keeping the site running, please…
– join well over 100 monthly patrons at
– switch power supplier! Low-cost renewable Bulb energy will pay you and this site £50 each if you switch
– buy the author a coffee at
– make a one-off contribution at