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Brexit: Government must hold on to commitment of frictionless trade

By Paul Francis

The leader of Kent County Council says the government must hold to its commitment to frictionless trade across Europe after Brexit to avoid the county becoming gridlocked.

Cllr Paul Carter, speaking at a full council meeting today, said both the M20 and M2 must be kept open whatever changes were made to customs and border checks in 2020.

Answering a question from opposition Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Rob Bird about the response KCC intended to make to a new inquiry by the Commons transport select committee, Mr Carter said: “We will urge the UK Government to uphold their commitment to a ‘frictionless as possible’ border to continue to facilitate free-flowing trade and transport throughout Kent.

Cllr Paul Carter - KCC 21st Century Kent Launch Charter House,Ashford Picture: Gary Browne (996798)
Cllr Paul Carter - KCC 21st Century Kent Launch Charter House,Ashford Picture: Gary Browne (996798)

"Should traffic flow be disrupted due to delays at the port for any reason, the M20 and M2 must be kept open in both directions at all times. This will require timely decisions and appropriate investment by the government.”

He added any changes to existing border and customs arrangements as a result of the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU “would be likely to have a significant impact on Kent as a gateway county, including the ports, Eurotunnel and our surrounding transport networks.”

The select committee inquiry, launched last month, will examine the potential effects on UK freight operations and assess “the preparatory steps operators, their customers and the government need to take.”

The M20 would be affected by delays following Brexit. Stock image
The M20 would be affected by delays following Brexit. Stock image

Committee chairman Lilian Greenwood MP said: "We've heard a lot about custom arrangements, border controls, tariffs and trade deals. But we haven't heard enough about transport infrastructure, policy and regulation implications affecting freight operators and their customers.”

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