'No deal' and businesses' contingency planning – more political and practical steps emerge.

Negotiations between the UK Government and European Commission have continued this week behind closed doors in Brussels ahead of next week's European Council summit.

Meanwhile, major works on motorways in Kent began yesterday (11 October) as the government prepares for potentially massive delays at the port of Dover resulting from a no-deal Brexit

In parallel, the Parliamentary Committee responsible for scrutinising and reporting on the UK’s preparations for Brexit – “Exiting the European Union Committee” - yesterday consulted representatives from small businesses, the pharmaceutical industry, and road haulage.

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, confirmed that the M26 will become a holding area for hundreds of lorries to enable traffic to move more freely on other roads.  He really had no choice as the road was closed overnight for survey work ahead of further closures to install gates in the central reservation should ‘Operation Stack’ extend beyond its previous scope of the M20 leading to Folkstone and Dover.

The development plans are dubbed ‘Operation Brock’ by the Department of Transport and will ensure that queues of thousands of trucks can be handled efficiently in the event freight will not be able to get through the ports after the UK leaves the EU.

However, the government and Highways England have come under fire for keeping the plans under wraps. Neither the Department for Transport nor Highways England had showed the plan to local councillors or MPs until hours before the work began on Wednesday.

Conservative MP for Tonbridge & Malling Tom Tugendhat expressed told Parliament that he was unhappy about the secrecy surrounding the project.  He told the House of Commons: “It has come to a pretty pass when an MP finds out that works have begun on a motorway to turn that motorway into a parking lot - without consultation either with the local community or with surrounding [MPs].”

Tugendhat added that the work had begun even though Grayling had assured him in April that there was no Brexit plan for the M26.

Back in the House of Commons, the Committee focused on ‘no-deal’ and the contingency planning being undertaken by businesses large and small.  As part of the Government’s preparations for a scenario whereby the UK leaves the EU without a deal, heard from representatives about how business is approaching its contingency planning across the food, pharmaceutical and road haulage sectors.  Technical Notices – or Guidelines to a post-Brexit World – have been published by both the European Commission and UK Government (already numbering over 150 in total) and underpin Government engagement with businesses.

Brexit Partners have been reporting on many of the impacts of the Technical Notices as they have been released in recent weeks and they are integral to the Brexit planning that we are undertaking with business, industry and commerce.

For Information:

The M26 will be closed between 22:00 – 05:30 from October 15 to October 19; then from 22:00 – 05:30 from November 19 to December 21.

John ShuttleworthComment