An MP has launched a 50-page plan that he hopes will ensure that Dover and the Channel Ports are ready for Brexit on day one and fears of long queues prove unfounded.
Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke has created the plan, developed with ports, shipping and haulage businesses and it is backed by industry leaders and Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-Calais region.
There have been warnings from some MPs of a disaster at the Channel Ports with queues all the way to Essex when the UK exits the EU. But Elphicke says his 5-point plan will ensure the Channel Ports are ready on day one to avoid gridlock and meet the Brexit borders challenge:
Elphicke’s plan’s main points are:
• Resilient Roads to the Channel Ports: the new Thames Crossing taken forward at speed, the M2/A2 upgraded and dualled all the way to the Channel Ports and the planned M20 Lorry Park to be delivered on time
• Open for Business: with systems ready on day one to ensure that customs controls are handled seamlessly, with long queues avoided and technology used to speed customs processing
• A New Entente Cordiale to extend the Le Touquet Treaty to cover customs co-operation
• A Brexit Infrastructure Bill: a new law to speed through administrative processes that would mean road building is made much quicker to enable vital projects to be delivered on time
• One Government at the border to ensure order. Creating a single ministry with border responsibility rather than the current variety of agencies, to avoid muddle and confusion.
“Gridlock at Dover will mean gridlock for the UK economy,” Elphicke said. “Yet with proper planning we can not only be ready on day one – we can make Brexit a real success. That’s what this plan is about.”
Bertrand wrote the foreword to the report, writing that the report has 3 great merits: “The first is to recall that the challenge of Brexit not only affects the future of Dover, Kent and the UK – but also that of Britain’s immediate neighbours. This is especially true of the Irish Republic and the Hauts-de-France region of France whose economy and people will be the first affected in their daily lives.
“The second merit is to see a leading elected official mobilise his expertise for concrete solutions rather than yield to the temptation of the ongoing battle against a popular decision implemented by a democratically elected government.
“The third merit is to focus on the issue of infrastructure.
“We must work together with Dover to make the same choices for investments in new digital tools to boost fluidity, fast lanes, as well as increased monitoring and the fight against terrorism.”
Richard Christian, head of communications at the Port of Dover, said: “The report identifies some potential options to get to our goal of frictionless trade. The Port particularly welcomes the inclusion of Transit, a passport for goods that should be considered as part of the solution to the trading success of the UK, Ireland and other European partners.”
Alex Veitch, head of global policy at the Freight Transport Association, added: “The report is an important piece of work examining one of the most crucial issues for the success of Brexit.
“We fully agree with conclusions it reaches about what is needed to make trade through ports like Dover work come the day we leave the EU.”
Photo: M20 in Kent, by FLPA/REX/Shutterstock
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