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Michael Gove talks down 'sobering' leaked report

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The reverberations from the leaked government dossier on the threat posed by a no-deal Brexit look likely to set the political agenda in the coming days.

Depending on your perspective, it is either a sobering and realistic assessment of departing without a deal or - as Michael Gove argued - an out of date report which had been overtaken by events.

His claim that the dossier depicted a worst-case scenario seemed to be at odds with the view of civil servants who, according to The Sunday Times, described some of the consequences as a “reasonable” scenario.

Traffic queued up at the entrance to the Port of Dover
Traffic queued up at the entrance to the Port of Dover

Either way, even if only some of the consequences materialise, the UK would have a lot to contend with, not least in Kent.

The claim that as many as 85% of hauliers are not prepared for French customs checks and on “Day One” the flow of freight through the Channel ports could be reduced by as much as 60% is among the more alarming - the impact on Kent would, in these circumstances be pretty sudden.

The idea that hauliers could have to wait for two and a half days before crossing the border would see Operation Brock almost instantly implemented.

Of course, you’d expect the government to downplay the potential repercussions and conspiracy theorists may argue it was a pro-active leak: flagging up the dire consequences in the expectation that when it comes to B-day, things won’t be that dreadful and chaotic.

Michael Gove.Picture: Tony Flashman
Michael Gove.Picture: Tony Flashman

Still, the soundbite that Mr Gove resorted to that there were likely to be “bumps in the road” could prove to be a hostage to fortune.

He may have to confront a scenario that mere bumps will have become cavernous sinkholes by the time we get to October 31.

It is not the most auspicious backdrop for the Prime Minister to be heading to Europe for talks about a new Brexit deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

C’est la vie.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here.

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

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