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What the EU extension means for Operation Brock and EU elections

By Paul Francis

A Kent MP has called for Operation Brock to be lifted as soon as possible after the news that the government has been given another six months to reach a Brexit deal.

The extension was agreed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels and comes just 24 hours before a deadline that could have meant that the UK could have crashed out with no deal.

This morning, Damian Green, MP for Ashford, said: “If we are definitely not leaving at the end of this week then I see no reason to continue with Operation Brock and I hope it can be lifted as soon as possible."

Ashford MP Damian Green (8266449)
Ashford MP Damian Green (8266449)

The implementation of the contingency measures along the M20 between Ashford and Maidstone has drawn criticism from motorists and hauliers, who have argued that it is not necessary to be in place when there are no delays at the Channel Ports.

Mr Green also said that Theresa May should be allowed to continue to lead the party until the Brexit deal was resolved. “I think the country would find it incredibly self-indulgent for the Conservative Party to say that in the last few months of a vital negotiation that we want to spend it having a leadership election. That would be bad for the country and bad for the party.”

The extension was agreed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels and comes just 24 hours before a deadline that could have meant that the UK could have crashed out with no deal.

"I see no reason to continue with Operation Brock and I hope it can be lifted as soon as possible..." Damian Green

Opposition Liberal Democrat leader on Kent County Council Rob Bird said that Highways England should act immediately to lift Operation Brock: “It is disruptive it is dangerous; it is not working effectively or efficiently and we should get rid of it.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said after the announcement: "I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension. The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal."

"I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament. But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward. Nothing is more pressing or more vital."

Operation Brock in place on M20 between junctions 8 & 9..M20 Bridge, Fairbourne Lane, Harrietsham, Maidstone..Picture: Andy Jones. (8087524)
Operation Brock in place on M20 between junctions 8 & 9..M20 Bridge, Fairbourne Lane, Harrietsham, Maidstone..Picture: Andy Jones. (8087524)

One consequence of the agreement is that it is now likely that there will have to be elections for the European Parliament in late May.

On the prospects of an EU election, Mr Green said: “I think the idea of going through the expense and trouble of electing MEPs for what could be a few months seems to me to be a nonsense.”

Councils in Kent are already on standby to make arrangements for an unscheduled poll.

Dover council said: “As part of contingency planning, we are ensuring that certain preparations are being made, that will enable us to move swiftly should EU elections need to be held.”

Graphic (8213223)
Graphic (8213223)

Canterbury City Council also said it was ready. A spokesman said: "Residents can be assured that, should a European election take place, as a responsible council we would be able to run that election.

"It's no different to having a snap general election, and we've managed those perfectly well in the past.

"We are already looking at the arrangements that would be required, remembering of course that a European election is run on a regional basis with a regional returning officer coordinating it, and we are following his guidance."

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