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7,000 trucks to queue at UK frontier if Brexit deal collapses

Published : 24 Sep 2020, 02:21

  DF News Desk

File Photo Xinhua.

Massive queues of up to 7,000 freight trucks could form close to the British frontier in Kent if a Brexit deal with the European Union (EU) is not reached, British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said Wednesday, reported Xinhua..

Known as a staunch Brexit supporter, Gove outlined to MPs at the House of Commons (lower house of parliament) what he described as a worse case scenario without a deal, adding that the British government still hopes to reach a deal with the EU before Dec. 31, 2020.

Describing the end of the transition period as a moment of great opportunity with change and challenge ahead, Gove called on businesses in Britain to prepare for changes in customs procedures, noting that just 24 percent of businesses believe that they are fully ready for hard Brexit.

Attempts to negotiate a trade deal that would reduce the risk of delays were continuing this week, despite the arguments over the British government's apparent threat to break international law if they collapse.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is preparing to travel to London for further informal talks with his counterpart Lord Frost in an effort to reach an agreement, which has stalled due to disputes on state aid and fishing rights.

"The consequences of a lack of business preparedness will be not just economic opportunities missed for those companies who don't prepare but, potentially, much wider disruption," said Gove.

He said the government's Reasonable Worst Case Scenario planning assumptions, indicated what could happen if Britain does not secure improved preparedness.

"The scenario builds on an estimate that only 50-70 percent of large businesses, and just 20-40 perent of small- and medium-sized enterprises, would be ready for the strict application of new EU requirements," he added.

It could mean that only between 30 and 60 percent of freight vehicles, laden with goods destined for Europe, would arrive at the border with the necessary formalities completed for the goods on board.

"They would therefore be turned back by the French border authorities, clogging the Dover to Calais crossing," Gove said, noting that in such a scenario flows across the critical Short Strait crossings from the Port of Dover could be reduced by up to 60 to 80 percent compared to the normal rate.

"In such circumstance, that could lead to queues of up to 7,000 HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) in Kent," said Gove.

Although Britain left the EU in January, it is still following the blocs single market and custom's union rules during a transition period ending after 100 days.