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Charlie Elphicke: MP calls for £1bn to be set aside in event of no Brexit deal

By Paul Francis

The government has been urged by a Kent MP to set aside £1bn to pay for securing the borders and improving transport links in the event there was no deal on Brexit in 2019.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has told ministers that the the government needed to earmark the money in the budget next month.

His intervention is the latest in a series from Kent MPs who are increasingly concerned that the county is at risk of being hit by constant disruption and delays after Brexit.

Deal and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke

Deal and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke

Later today, the Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins will be the third Kent MP to highlight the risks to Kent after Brexit and call for action on building the huge lorry park off the M20.

Mr Elphicke warned, without investment, Kent could see a repeat of the chaos caused in 2015 when Operation Stack had to be implemented for several weeks, causing gridlock that cost businesses thousands of pounds.

He told the Commons allocating the money was “responsible, no regrets spending and in the national interest to plan and be prepared for all eventualities. To do otherwise would be complacent and irresponsible".

He said: “At least £1bn should be set aside in the November Budget to invest in upgrading our systems and infrastructure so that we will be ready on day one to forge ahead on day two.”

There needed to be insurance against a last-minute “no deal” and the money was partly needed for border upgrades.

“In 2015, tailbacks caused by strikes in Calais caused queues of 4,600 lorries over 30 miles, at the cost of £1bn to the British economy," he said.

The Eastern docks at the Port of Dover

The Eastern docks at the Port of Dover

“In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks with miles of traffic and 250,000 people caught up in the delay. Gridlock at Dover will mean gridlock for the British economy.”

It was vital that the UK had the option of walking away without a deal and to be able to do so “fully prepared".

He said: “We must be ready on day one, to forge ahead on day two, deal or no deal.”

The Port of Dover says that if no arrangements are made for customs checks before 2019, every HGV lorry would need to be individually checked.

And this week, the National Audit Office added its voice to the issue, warning journey times could increase substantially after Brexit.

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