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Delayed Brexit date of October 31 gives Port of Dover more time to prepare, says boss Doug Bannister

By Sam Lennon

The months of Brexit delay gives the Port of Dover more time to prepare, says its boss.

Chief executive Doug Bannister spoke after the EU agreed to a wait of up to seven months after the original departure date.

Mr Bannister said: "We all now have a bit more time to reflect on our collective preparations and look at areas where we can further improve our plans to ensure that every link in the chain is supporting the next to deliver the optimal solution."

There is more time for the port to prepare, says its boss
There is more time for the port to prepare, says its boss

He said this was to enable people and goods to flow whatever the Brexit landscape in a few months' time.

Mr Bannister added: "Up until this week the Port, together with its ferry operator and sister port partners, highways authorities and members of the Kent Resilience Forum together with the cross-Government Border Delivery Group, have all been working intensively to prepare against an imminent deadline."

Doug Bannister. Picture courtesy of the Port of Dover
Doug Bannister. Picture courtesy of the Port of Dover

Meanwhile a multi-agency group making contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit says it will use the extra time to press on with its work.

A spokesman for the Kent Resilience Forum said: "Following the agreement between the UK government and the European Union to extend the deadline for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the Kent Resilience Forum’s work to minimise disruption to the county will continue.

"We are committed to preparing for the country’s anticipated withdrawal and have developed contingency plans to keep Kent moving and open for business."

This includes keeping the M20 open in both directions, minimising disruption for local communities and implementing welfare plans for those who may be affected by delays.

The spokesman added: " We will continue to liaise with central government, fine tune our plans and keep the communities of Kent informed over the coming months.”

KRF represents organisations such as councils, the police, Highways England and the NHS.

Symbol of Brexit, the Banksy mural in Dover
Symbol of Brexit, the Banksy mural in Dover

In the early hours of yesterday the European Union finally agreed for Britain to leave the organisations on October 31.

This is seven months after the original deadline of March 29.

But if the withdrawal deal agreed with the EU was passed by the UK Parliament, this country could leave sooner.

MPs have repeatedly rejected Mrs May's withdrawal agreement and so the departure deadline was initially put back until 11pm today.

Mrs May got the new date after five hours of talks in Brussels.

It follows months of turmoil over the issue in the UK.

This government and its European counterparts both argue that a deal is needed.

The UK must now hold European elections on May 23 or will have to crash out without a deal on June 1.

The agreement between Mrs May and the EU covers areas such as the transition period, citizen's rights and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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