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Jo Johnson warns people Kent of no deal Brexit as he quits ministerial role

By KentOnline reporter

A government minister has quit with a stark warning over the impact on Kent of a no deal Brexit.

Transport minister Jo Johnson dropped his bombshell news in a recorded video message released this afternoon .

He said the prospect of Kent becoming a lorry park was 'very real.'

Former BBC journalist and current University of Kent chancellor Gavin Esler said: "This - from a hugely respected minister - is an important development. There are many Conservative MPs who share Jo Johnson's serious concerns."

The MP, who voted to remain is Boris Johnson's brother - a leading Brexiteer - and argued Britain was "on the brink of the greatest crisis" since World War Two.

The MP for Orpington revealed in an open letter he would vote against the withdrawal agreement in the Commons.

In an open letter today he wrote: " The government may have to take control of prioritising which lorries and which goods are allowed in and out of the country, an extraordinary and surely unworkable intervention for a government in an advanced capitalist economy.

"The prospect of Kent becoming the Lorry Park of England is very real in a no deal scenario.

"Orpington residents bordering Kent face disruption from plans to use the nearby M26, connecting the M25 to the M20, as an additional queuing area for heavy goods vehicles backed up all the way from the channel ports.

"This prospect alone would be a resigning matter for me as a constituency MP, but it is just a facet of a far greater problem facing the nation."

In response, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The referendum in 2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in this country's history. We will not under any circumstances have a second referendum.

"The prime minister thanks Jo Johnson for his work in government."

Analysis

By political editor Paul Francis

The resignation of Jo Johnson isn't quite on the same bombshell scale as his brother Boris Johnson, but nevertheless will be seen as further evidence that the Prime Minister could struggle to build a consensus around her Brexit plan.

And his warning that Kent could become the Lorry Park of England under a "no-deal" scenario will add to the growing concerns that as things stand, Kent is ill prepared for whatever scenario it is presented with after next March.

His resignation statement makes the obvious point that whatever arrangements are made on this side of the channel to deal with delays and disruption, the UK will be unable to dictate what could happen on the Calais side of the Channel.

Kent County Council insists the government is listening to its concerns but the former transport minister suggests that ministers continue to grapple with a challenge to ensure frictionless trade and smooth Customs arrangement after next March.

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