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Brexit: We'r e only at the foothills of Kilimanjaro, says former Communities Secretary Eric Pickle in Dover

By Sam Lennon

We have only reached the foothills of a giant mountain in the Brexit journey, a former Cabinet Minister warns.

Eric Pickles says the present strife in Parliament over the withdrawal agreement is only the beginning.

He says there is still a long process involving matters such as trade arrangements and regulations.

Eric Pickles at the opening at MET (8304348)
Eric Pickles at the opening at MET (8304348)

The former Communities Secretary, now Lord Pickles, spoke in Dover when he opened new laboratories at a medical testing firm.

He told Kent Online: "People need to understand,, this is just the beginning, this is just the divorce bill

"The really difficult, hard, technical stuff to deal with Brexit is the second phase.

"This is nothing. These are the foothills, we've still got to climb Kilimanjaro.

"We've got to deal with the trade, we've got to deal with regulations we've got to deal with lots and lots of things."

Lord Pickles spoke today when he opened new laboratories, in a £470,000 investment, at Medical Engineering Technologies in Dover.

Eric Pickles opens MET's new laboratories with staff and managing director Mark Turner (8304341)
Eric Pickles opens MET's new laboratories with staff and managing director Mark Turner (8304341)

Prime Minister Theresa May has had her withdrawal agreement outvoted overwhelmingly in the House of Commons three times but Lord Pickles said he supported it.

He explained: "I did vote for it as a member of the House of Lords. It's a straight choice now,Theresa's deal or no deal and just disappear.

"Given there is an Act of Parliament saying we won't leave without a deal that just leaves Theresa's deal there.

"We'll have to see what the discussions are between her and the Leader of the Opposition,"

Following months of strife in the House of Commons over Britain's departure of the European Union the original leaving date of March 29 was scrapped.

It was replaced by the current April 12 but so far no withdrawal deal has been voted through by MPs.

Eiic Pickles, a Conservative, was Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, from 2010 to 2015, during David Cameron's first government.

The plain-speaking Yorkshireman was also Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2009 to 2010 and an MP in Essex for 25 years until 2017.

MET, in Holmestone Road, on the Coombe Valley industrial estate, tests medical equipment.

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