ONE OF Hampshire's biggest employers says it has drawn up contingency plans to deal with "any potential issues" arising from Brexit.

Bosses at ExxonMobil, which owns Fawley refinery, have spoken out amid fears the petroleum industry could suffer serious damage if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

Fawley employs 1,200 people and also provides work for up to 800 contractors at any one time.

But a no-deal Brexit could result in UK refineries being hit by a double blow - cheap petrol imports and a tariff on exports to the EU, which Britain is due to leave in less than two months' time.

New Forest Post:

All imports and exports between the EU and the UK are currently tariff-free.

However, fuel exports are expected to be subject to a 4.7% tariff if the UK defaults to World Trade Organisation rules on October 31.

Petroleum industry leaders say any failure to match that with import tariffs would put UK refineries at a competitive disadvantage.

The potential threat to Fawley and other sites has emerged following the publication of a leaked government document headed Operation Yellowhammer.

New Forest Post:

Stephen Marcos Jones, director general of the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) said: “The UK oil sector continues to make every preparation possible to cope with potential disruptions in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"UKPIA and our members are engaging with the government to ensure the long-term effects on the sector allow for a competitive and economically vital part of the UK’s fuel supply chain.

"Allowing UK refineries to compete on a level-playing field with EU refineries is a priority the government should address now in order to avoid and mitigate any potential upheaval from no-deal."

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: "ExxonMobil has contingency plans in place to address any potential issues arising from Brexit. The details of these plans, related scenarios and our import and export markets are confidential and commercially sensitive."