‘No-deal Brexit could cause six months of cross-Chan­nel chaos’

Western Mail - - BREXIT - DAVID HUGHES, AN­DREW WOODCOCK and DAVID WILCOCK news­[email protected]­line.co.uk

ANO-DEAL Brexit could lead to six months of chaos on key cross-Chan­nel routes, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est gov­ern­ment as­sess­ment.

Fer­ries be­tween Dover and Calais and traf­fic us­ing the Chan­nel Tun­nel could be dis­rupted un­til the end of Septem­ber 2019.

A let­ter sent by Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock to the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try and NHS con­tained the warn­ing.

He said: “Al­though we can­not know ex­actly what each mem­ber state will do with re­spect to checks on the EU border, the cross-Gov­ern­ment plan­ning as­sump­tions have been re­vised so we can pre­pare for the po­ten­tial im­pacts that the im­po­si­tion of third coun­try con­trols by mem­ber states could have.

“These im­pacts are likely to be felt mostly on the short straits cross­ings into Dover and Folke­stone, where the fre­quent and closed loop na­ture of these mean that both ex­ports and im­ports would be af­fected.

“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. “

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

Kent coun­cil’s leader, Paul Carter, called for emer­gency mea­sures to pre­vent lor­ries from en­ter­ing the county to avoid chaos on the roads.

“We now need far more in­put and in­for­ma­tion from na­tional gov­ern­ment in how they are go­ing to work with us,” he said. “There must be a na­tional freight trans­port plan which, when nec­es­sary, can hold lor­ries back from com­ing into Kent in the first place should the need arise.”

With the Com­mons vote on Theresa May’s With­drawal Agree­ment ex­pected to re­sult in it be­ing re­jected by MPs, the risk of a no-deal Brexit could in­crease.

For­mer for­eign sec­re­tary Boris Johnson said the Brexit deal ob­tained from Brus­sels by Mrs May is sim­i­lar to the con­di­tions that might be im­posed on the de­feated side in a war.

As the Prime Minister sent se­nior col­leagues out around the coun­try to sell her deal, Mr Johnson re­peated his call for MPs to throw it out in the Com­mons vote next Tues­day.

The Prime Minister was com­ing un­der grow­ing pres­sure to de­lay the De­cem­ber 11 vote to give her­self time to ask for more con­ces­sions from the EU at a Brus­sels sum­mit at the end of next week.

With three days of the five-day de­bate com­plete, Press As­so­ci­a­tion anal­y­sis showed that of 163 MPs who have spo­ken, just 27 have in­di­cated they will back Mrs May’s deal com­pared to 122 – in­clud­ing 29 Tories – who will vote against.

Se­nior Con­ser­va­tive MP Sir Gra­ham Brady, chair­man of the back­bench 1922 Com­mit­tee, said he would wel­come de­fer­ring the vote to al­low time to set­tle the ques­tion of how the UK re­moves it­self from the so-called “back­stop” ar­range­ments for North­ern Ire­land.

How­ever, a spokesman for Mrs May in­sisted the vote would be held on Tues­day.

Writ­ing on Face­book, Mr Johnson said that the back­stop “hands the EU the in­def­i­nite power to bully and black­mail this coun­try to get what­ever it wants in the fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions”, be­cause it de­nies the UK the power to leave with­out agree­ment from Brus­sels.

Pre­dict­ing that France will use this ad­van­tage to “plun­der” UK fish­ing wa­ters, Spain will “make an­other push for Gi­bral­tar” and Ger­many will de­mand con­ces­sions on mi­gra­tion, the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary said: “It is quite in­cred­i­ble that any gov­ern­ment could agree to such terms.

“They re­sem­ble the kind of dik­tat that might be im­posed on a na­tion that has suf­fered a mil­i­tary de­feat.”

The Border De­liv­ery Group, a White­hall co-or­di­na­tion group for gov­ern­ment de­part­ments that have an in­ter­est in border is­sues, was hold­ing dis­cus­sions with key stake­hold­ers yesterday, a spokesman for Mrs May said.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn said that “all op­tions” – in­clud­ing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum – must be on the ta­ble if Mrs May goes down to de­feat next week.

Writ­ing in The Guardian, Mr Cor­byn made clear that his pre­ferred re­sult re­mains a gen­eral elec­tion which might al­low Labour to try to se­cure a Brexit in­volv­ing a cus­toms union which gave the UK a say in fu­ture EU trade deals, as well as a new sin­gle mar­ket deal al­low­ing Bri­tain control over mi­gra­tion and state aid.

> Kent coun­cil’s leader has is­sued an ap­peal to Gov­ern­ment for ex­tra money and sup­port to help pre­vent ‘chaos’ at its ports and roads

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