POLITICS
04/01/2019 14:54 GMT | Updated 04/01/2019 15:01 GMT

Gridlock Fears As Government Prepares To Test Out No-Deal Brexit Back-Up Plan

Up to 150 extra HGVs are expected on a road into the Port of Dover during rush hour.

A road into the Port of Dover could end up gridlocked during rush hour as part of government attempts to plan for no-deal Brexit chaos at the UK border. 

The lorry traffic trial run, codenamed Operation Brock, will take place on the A256 road between Manston airfield and the port during the 7am busy period on Monday. 

The Department of Transport and Kent County Council have asked 150 hauliers to send HGVs for the 36-mile test run and fears of disruption are mounting. 

A second trial will take place during a less busy period later on Monday. 

Officials will be checking to see how many lorries the road can withstand on the road from a disused airfield car park – where the government may send backed-up trucks should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal – and the port. 

The government has insisted that the M20, which is the main route from Dover to London, will be kept open during the trial to avoid cross-Channel disruption.

A letter, leaked to Sky News’ Faisal Islam, reads: “This test will establish the safest optimum release rate of HGVs from Manston airfield along the proposed route on the A256 to the Port of Dover, and how many impacts could be managed. 

“The DfT seeks the participation of 100  – 150 hauliers from the Kent, Dover and Folkestone area for a live test of Manston airfield and the route along the A299 and A256 to the Port of Dover and back on 7 January 2019. 

“The intention is for two test runs to take place, one in the morning peak time (arriving Manston 7am) and another during a quieter time during the day to assess times taken from Manston airfield to the A256 to the Eastern Docks roundabout at the entry of the port.” 

The government has also said the test would be carried out regardless of the threat of no-deal in a bid to improve infrastructure in the area and said hauliers would be reimbursed for taking part. 

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We do not want or expect a no-deal scenario and continue to work hard to deliver a deal with the EU. However, it is the duty of a responsible government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no-deal.

“We will be testing part of Operation Brock to ensure that, if it needs to be implemented, the system is fully functional.”

The pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain, meanwhile, said the public should be given a vote on Brexit in a bid to avoid no-deal. 

Labour MP Jo Stevens said: “The government knows its Brexit deal isn’t going to succeed, but the truth is that no-deal isn’t either. This government has a real choice to make for our country and we don’t have to flirt with a cliff-edge Brexit.”