Cats and dogs would be stranded on the continent for weeks in the event of a no-deal Brexit, leaked contingency plans have revealed.
Proposals set for publication this week, but leaked to today’s Sun newspaper, warn that a replacement to the EU’s Pet Passport would take months to negotiate, leaving animals unable to travel across borders.
The paper quotes Whitehall sources as claiming Downing Street was so worried about the public reaction that its publication may be delayed.
Were Britain to leaves the EU without a deal in place next March, we would automatically become a ‘Third Country’ in the eyes of Brussels.
That means British cats and dogs who are still physically in the EU on March 29 would not be recognised by the bloc’s Pet Passport scheme.
Pets from so-called “listed countries”, such as the USA and Russia, are able to travel with the correct documentation without having to be quarantined at borders.
Britain is expected to seek to become a listed country as soon as possible, but that could takes weeks or more to negotiate, with no guarantee the EU will simply sign off on it.
A senior Whitehall source told The Sun: ‘This is the one they are really worried is going to grab the public’s attention.
“People switch off when they hear all the doomsday stuff, but it is different when it comes to their pets.’
Paul Butters, spokesperson for anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said the news would “leave millions of pet owners feeling ruff this morning”.
He said: “No matter how you voted in the referendum, you did not vote to leave your beloved family pet languishing in kennels for weeks.
“All this Brexit bad news must give us paws for thought. The government are barking up the wrong tree.
“This is why we need a people’s vote, a woof-erendum, on the final Brexit deal.”