Published: 18:00, 10 May 2017
Failing to get a deal with the EU after the Brexit negotiations would lead to “queues of lorries going back miles” from Kent’s ports, according to TV journalist Robert Peston.
The ITV political editor, who presents Peston on Sunday, said the UK leaving the table without a trade deal with Europe would be a “catastrophe” – and could bring the county to a standstill.
Around 14,000 vehicles pass through the Port of Dover each day, carrying about £119 billion of trade and 13 million passengers every year.
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Mr Peston spoke at Kent Vision Live, the largest business-to-business exhibition in the county, attended by about 3,000 people and more than 300 companies.
He said: “At the moment half our trade is not subject to customs checks but the notion we would be able to impose checks as a result of having no deal is ridiculous.
“I would be standing somewhere near Dover with a queue of lorries going back miles and say ‘this is what no deal means’.
“We do simply not have the capacity to check all the vehicles if we had no deal.
“It would be little short of catastrophe.”
Former BBC journalist Mr Peston said the prospect of the country following World Trade Organisation rules with the single market would also be bad for the EU, meaning a deal would be found.
“No deal is not a political option,” he added. “Rationality prevails in these moments.”
The comments come days after the election of Emmanuel Macron as the French president sparked concerns over his pledge to scrap the current border arrangements, in which UK border officials work at Calais.
The UK Chamber of Shipping there would be delays and colossal queues around the ports on both sides of the channel as checks were made.