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Port of Dover ‘prepared’ for Brexit but appeals for government help

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The Port of Dover says it is “prepared” for Brexit but still needs the government’s help to keep the UK’s most important port running smoothly.

Sky News has seen a joint statement it is due to release on Wednesday, along with the two main ferry companies that use Dover as the base for cross-Channel services – P&O and DFDS.

It is aimed at promoting contingency plans they have made, but also to push the government into offering more support to the industries that rely on moving goods between the UK and Europe.

Each day, around 10,000 lorries pass through the port.



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Doug Bannister, the port’s new chief executive, will say: “Throughout the Brexit debate, what people have been desiring is certainty. Uncertainty is continuing but we are prepared.

“We will continue to manage our infrastructure professionally and our team stands ready to handle whatever comes our way, We look forward to welcoming customers on 29th March, 30th March and far into the future.”

The smooth functioning of Dover has been the focus of huge speculation, particularly around the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

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Various models have predicted that delays on either side of the Channel could lead to huge queues of lorries trying to get into the port.

The port is expected to accept that “external factors such as border controls may slow things down”, but will say that such delays will happen at “every EU-facing gateway” across the UK.



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Dover’s management claim, though, that no other port has such profound experience of how to deal with widespread disruption.

In its statement, the first since Mr Bannister took over as boss, the port will say that “preparation is the key” to coping with Brexit, and throws the onus on to the government to offer more guidance to logistics companies that use its facilities.

The statement reads: “Beyond the existing close co-operation with the port and its ferry partners, it will be essential that the UK government and its agencies, as well as the European Union and its member states, expedite the provision of information to the logistics community in order that it has what it needs to plan for, and prepare, the required documentation in advance of lorries arriving at ports.”

It is an appeal that is being backed up by the bosses of the two main ferry operators.



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Kasper Moos, managing director of DFDS in Dover, says that his company is “now intensifying work to ensure that customers are preparing for new border processes in order to protect their businesses and keep people and goods flowing through this vital trade route”.

David Stretch, managing director of P&O Ferries, said his company would continue to operate cross-channel services “as long as there are goods and people travelling between the UK and Europe” and said his company has “been working with authorities on detailed preparations to support our operation at Dover which, along with our ports on the east coast of England, will continue to give customers a range of options for connecting with Europe under every scenario”.

The statement will offer some reassurance to anxious logistics firms that Dover is doing all that it can to mitigate problems.

Others, though, will point out that Dover has often been praised for its ability to deal with high volumes of traffic at normal times.

While Dover’s words will seem emollient, they will also – very publicly – throw pressure on the government to come up with a plan that limits delays at the port – the “external factors” that could prove crucial in shaping what happens after Brexit.

Dover’s statement will follow a similar announcement from Eurotunnel on Tuesday evening.

The company said it was “currently working to ensure that new post-Brexit border controls will have no significant impact on Tunnel traffic”.

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