No deal ‘means months of Dover chaos’
CHANNEL ports could be plunged into six months of chaos if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, ministers claimed last night.
They said ferries from Dover and Folkestone and Channel Tunnel traffic could be severely disrupted until the end of September next year.
The turmoil could be so bad that lorries carrying medical supplies will have to be given priority at the ports.
Plans have also been drawn up for vital drugs to be flown in. Ministers are even considering ordering pharmacists to ration medicines in the event of shortages.
Yesterday Kent Council warned that gridlocked roads on the way to Dover could lead to a range of knock-on effects including bodies left unburied and waste going uncollected. The risk of a no-deal Brexit has increased as it looks increasingly likely that Theresa May’s deal with Brussels will be rejected by MPs on Tuesday.
The warning about six months of chaos was contained in a letter sent by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to the pharmaceutical industry and NHS bodies.
He said: ‘The revised... 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 said vital medicines could be flown into the UK or shipped to alternative ports if the UK crashes out of the EU. Medical supplies ‘will be prioritised on these alternative routes’, he said.
The Health Secretary added: ‘Our UKwide contingency plan also contains other measures, including arrangements for the air freight of medicines with a short shelf life.’ Mr Hancock also suggested that current plans to have drug firms stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies might not go far enough. The Times reported that plans being consulted on by the Department of Health would enable ministers to issue a ‘serious shortage protocol’ for pharmacies, allowing them to alter or change prescriptions to preserve drug supplies.
Mr Hancock told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This is something we are consulting on.’ In a separate document, Kent Council warned that bodies may remain uncollected and children might miss exams due to gridlocked roads in the event of a nodeal Brexit.
It said refuse could blight the streets and food deliveries could be disrupted as the county copes with 10,000 lorries parked or stacked on its roads.
The 17-page report laid bare the possibility of ‘prolonged disruption’. It could result in staff shortages in areas such as social care and the delivery of medicines, the council said. And the coroner service ‘could face difficulties with the transport of the deceased to post mortem or body storage facilities... and travel by pathologists to mortuary to conduct post mortems’.
Leaked government papers suggest Ireland could suffer more from a no-deal Brexit than the UK, with a projected 7 per cent drop in GDP compared to 5 per cent for Britain.