The Sunday Times last weekend splashed its front page with a story by the excellent Tim Shipman. It had all the appearances of a major scoop that proves the Remoaners’ doomsday predictions to be true – in spades. But unfortunately for the Remoaners, the story is nonsense. Here is why. This “scoop” is, in fact, nothing new. It has been bouncing around for some weeks. I have tried to refute it in person over in Brussels and on Twitter for some time. But it just keeps on popping up again on the #FBPE network. Like a good vampire in a horror movie, it won’t die. Put simply, the story says that there is a top secret report somewhere in the Department for Exiting the EU that reveals the horrors of a “no deal” scenario. It is so awful that it has been “locked in a safe” and shown to only a few key ministers. Presumably it lies next to the reports that prove JFK was shot by the FBI and that there is an alien flying saucer in Area 51. Over the years I have heard of the existence of so many secret government reports that are being deliberately covered up that I have stopped believing in any of them. But let us play along and assume that the report does exist and does say what the rumours say it does. In short, it declares that with a no-deal exit from the EU “the Port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks. And at the end of week two we would be running out of petrol too.” The only answer would be to get the RAF to fly supplies into the country by air. It is an apocalyptic scenario that has the Remoaners salivating at how their own country will be reduced to its knees. The reasons why Dover would collapse are not stated, but from previous discussions with those who believe this tale, the favourite answer is that the new customs procedures will be complex and there won’t be enough officials or computer hardware to operate them. I don’t buy that, but for the sake of argument let’s grant them that one. Dover is, of course, not the only port in the UK. There are plenty of others. Would they all “collapse on day one” as well? If Dover can’t cope, maybe imports could be diverted to other ports. And if Dover has collapsed because of a lack of customs facilities (or whatever the reason is supposed to be), why are those same facilities magically available at Heathrow or Land’s End airport ready to cope with the airlifts? My sceptical antennae were particularly raised by the specific detail of this supposed report. Cornwall and Scotland would be affected. Gosh. But what about Pembroke or Aberystwyth? They are just as remote as Cornwall – and unlike Cornwall they don’t have the major port of Plymouth on their doorsteps. So why Cornwall and Scotland? Well, many of the posh gentry in North London have holiday cottages in Cornwall. And those same folks have been obsessing about Scotland going for independence again. If Scottish folks face starvation that will push them that way. The specific detail is designed to play to those factors. And it is a typical ploy in a con to invoke a place or date close enough to be worrying, but not so close that the listener knows that the tall tale being told is ridiculous. Tell a Londoner that Cornwall will starve and he will worry. Tell him London will starve and he will laugh at you. And through all this, the UK government has, apparently, been doing nothing. There has been no effort to stop ships carrying toys docking in order to give priority to food and medicines. Nor has the government relaxed rules on food imports to speed things up. Nope, the government would rather have people starving in the streets than cut back on one iota of red tape. And the free market has no way of responding either – supermarkets will passively shut down rather than find another way to fill their shelves. And then there is this quote from a government official: “If, for whatever reason, Europe decides to slow that supply down, then we are screwed.” Are we seriously supposed to believe that our EU friends will watch the UK descend into chaos with people starving in the streets and the sick going untreated, just to prove a point about Brexit? Are they as heartless as Stalin was to the Ukraine in the 1930s? Will the international community smile on such behaviour? And if the EU slows down the flow of goods to sea ports, presumably they would do the same to airports. So where are the airlifts going to come from? In any case, so far as I can tell we are talking about problems with red tape at ports. Britain has never been starved into submission before, and I doubt an army of officials with complicated forms will work where massive armed power failed. A good con or fraud needs to play into the pre-existing worries or concerns of the target market. This story plays nicely with all the prejudices and bigotries of the Remoaners in North London. So I’m sorry to Tim Shipman. He is a great journalist and I admire his work. But on this one, he has been had.