Published: 14:28, 18 September 2019
| Updated: 14:40, 18 September 2019
The government has downplayed claims it has under-estimated the potential scale of traffic delays caused by a no-deal Brexit.
It follows the leak of Whitehall memos appearing to suggest the impact of leaving without a deal is far greater than outlined in its official contingency plan, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer.
A no-deal Brexit could cause huge tailbacks out of Dover
According to the Financial Times, the memos flag up concerns the passage of lorries through the Channel ports has been underestimated because they do not include those that arrive without proper documentation.
Those that lack the appropriate paperwork - described as non-compliant - have not been factored into the figures used to calculate the potential disruption in the recently-published Operation Yellowhammer report, according to the FT.
One memo spells out tailbacks outside Dover could stretch to around 93 miles - the equivalent of all the way to Guildford - based on a queue of 8,500 articulated lorries which are typically 16.5m long.
“Queues could reach a peak of 8,500 vehicles, a two-day maximum delay and a 1.5 day average delay,” it said.
Kevin Mills, a Dover Labour councillor said: “It is concerning. If we have problems, why can’t we talk openly with people about them?
"The knock-on affects to the district [Dover], transport and people trying to get to and from work could be quite devastating.
"The last thing this area needs is thousands more lorries floating around trying to get in to the country.”
Ashford MP Damian Green met with Treasury Minister and officials from HMRC on Tuesday.
He said after the meeting he remained very concerned that the arrangements for using the Ashford truckstop risked traffic being gridlocked around the new Junction 10a and the town.
“I was very concerned to learn that the Ashford site will be used for in-bound lorries that come across the Dover straits and will be used as a turn-around site for those that arrive and might need new papers; if it is difficult to see how - if it is not opened - Junction 10a will be able to cope,” said Mr Green.
Individual checks on lorries might take one to two hours for each vehicle.
Mr Green said he and other MPs now wanted an urgent meeting with Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of Brexit, about the implications for the town.
A DfT spokesman said: “The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances and that’s why the government has stepped up preparations to ensure we are fully ready.
“If hauliers have the correct documentation, there should be limited disruption at the border.
"We have implemented a major campaign to ensure hauliers can take action to get ready and are able to operate and that trade can continue to move as freely as possible between the UK and Europe after Brexit."
More by this authorPaul Francis