Ports chaos warn­ing ‘just scare tac­tics’

Daily Express - - For Brexit - By Macer Hall

MIN­IS­TERS were yesterday ac­cused of a fresh Pro­ject Fear pro­pa­ganda blitz af­ter the Gov­ern­ment warned that a no-deal Brexit could cause six months of chaos on key cross-Chan­nel routes.

Fer­ries be­tween Dover and Calais and traf­fic us­ing the Chan­nel Tun­nel could be dis­rupted un­til the end of Septem­ber 2019, Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock said.

He made the fore­cast in a let­ter to the NHS and the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try.

He also said the Gov­ern­ment was con­sult­ing on plans for chemists to ra­tion drugs so pa­tients can have medicines in the event of short­ages.

But Brex­i­teer Tory MP An­drew Brid­gen rub­bished the claim as “Pro­ject Fear on steroids” ahead of next week’s crunch Com­mons vote.

He said: “It’s the last throw of the dice from the Prime Minister who is des­per­ate to get MPs to vote for her with­drawal deal.”

In his let­ter, Mr Han­cock said that the short straits cross­ings into Dover and Folke­stone would be most vul­ner­a­ble.

He wrote: “The re­vised cross-Gov­ern­ment plan­ning as­sump­tions show that there will be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced ac­cess across the short straits for up to six months. This is very much a worst-case sce­nario.

“How­ever, as a re­spon­si­ble Gov­ern­ment, we have a duty to plan for all sce­nar­ios.”

Mr Han­cock also sug­gested that plans to have drug firms stock­pile six weeks of sup­plies might not go far enough.

He wrote: “In ar­eas where we can­not tol­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant risk to the flow of goods, such as with medicines and med­i­cal prod­ucts, we need to have con­tin­gency plans in place for this worst-case plan­ning as­sump­tion.

“This means that whilst the six-week stock­pil­ing ac­tiv­i­ties re­main a crit­i­cal part of our con­tin­gency plans, this now needs to be sup­ple­mented with ad­di­tional ac­tions.”

Min­is­ters are draw­ing up plans to fly in vi­tal drugs and give pri­or­ity to lor­ries with med­i­cal sup­plies at grid­locked ports.

Kent Coun­cil’s leader Paul Carter called for emer­gency mea­sures to pre­vent lor­ries en­ter­ing the county.

He said: “We now need far more in­put and in­for­ma­tion from na­tional Gov­ern­ment in how they are go­ing to work with us.

“There must be a na­tional freight trans­port plan which, when nec­es­sary, can hold lor­ries back from com­ing into Kent.”

Mike Thomp­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the As­so­ci­a­tion of the Bri­tish Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­dus­try, said: “Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies con­tinue to do ev­ery­thing in their power to make sure that pa­tients get ac­cess to medicines what­ever the Brexit sce­nario.

“How­ever, there are things which are out of our control.

“To­day’s up­date on po­ten­tial border delays for six months in a no-deal sce­nario is stark. Stock­pil­ing more medicines is not the so­lu­tion to this prob­lem.

“With just 16 weeks un­til the UK leaves the EU, we need the Gov­ern­ment to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to open up al­ter­na­tive sup­ply routes be­tween the UK and Europe and tell com­pa­nies so that they can make plans.”

Minister’s warn­ing over key Chan­nel routes dis­missed as pro­pa­ganda

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