6 months of ports chaos
No-deal alert up from 6 wks as NHS faces drug turmoil
A NO-DEAL Brexit could spark six months of ports chaos and disrupt NHS medicine shipments, the Government warns.
Ministers had expected six weeks of disruption at Folkestone and Dover if we crashed out of the EU.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock has now warned drug firms to plan for six months of “significantly reduced access” to the main trade routes between us and the continent under a no-deal scenario.
Civil servants from the Department for Transport, HMRC, the Home Office and the Brexit Department held crisis talks over policing the border amid fears MPs will sink Theresa May’s deal in next Tuesday’s Commons vote. Mr Hancock said planes could fly in medicines and be given priority access through gridlocked ports.
In a letter to NHS officials, he said: “Revised cross-Government planning assumptions show there will be significantly reduced access across the short straits, for up to six months.
“This is very much a worst-case scenario. In a ‘no deal’ exit we would, of course, be pressing member states hard to introduce pragmatic arrangements to ensure the continued full flow of goods, which would be to their benefit as well. Nevertheless, we have a duty to plan for all scenarios.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “A no-deal Brexit would not only do serious damage to the UK but have unpredictable and damaging consequences across Europe. It must be actively avoided by all sides.”
An amendment tabled by Tory backbenchers would give Parliament the power to impose a one-year limit on the backstop, designed to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose party opposes the deal, said it would not be enough, adding: “Domestic legislative tinkering won’t cut it.”
CRISIS Health Secretary Matt Hancock