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UK government hires over 100 lorries for no deal Brexit traffic tests

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LONDON — The government is hiring up to 150 lorries to test how one of the country’s busiest roads would cope with the disruption of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

The Department for Transport will next week trial a plan known as “Operation Brock” in which lorries be driven from Manston Airport in Kent to the port of Dover on the southern coast of England, Sky News reports.

As part of the plan being drawn up in Westminster, the airfield will be used as a holding facility for Europe-bound trucks in order to prevent congestion on the road to Dover in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Ministers and industry experts have warned that new border checks caused by a no deal Brexit would lead to delays in goods moving between the UK and the continent, affecting necessities like food and medicine.

Groups like the the Freight Transport Association have repeatedly warned that a no deal Brexit, endorsed by many pro-Brexit MPs, would create queues of lorries leading to Dover which could reach over 5o miles.

The tests next week are designed to discover at what speed the lorries can reach Dover. A leaked letter from the Department for Transport to Kent Council explains the government’s plans to hire up to 150 lorries to carry them out.

A Department for Transport spokesperson 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.”

Labour MP and supporter of anti-Brexit group Best For Britain Jo Stevens told Business Insider: “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.”

The Chris Grayling-led Department for Transport was this week accused of botching no deal Brexit preparations after it emerged that a company it had hired to run ferries owns no ships and has never operated a ferry service.

Grayling later claimed that the decision to award a contract worth up to £14 million to Seaborne was to “support a new British business.” The decision was subject to further ridicule when it was discovered that Seaborne’s website used terms and conditions taken from a food delivery company’s website.

Ministers have warned MPs that the UK could leave the EU without a deal at the end of March if they do not vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal later this month.

MPs are set to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement on the week of January 14 with May almost certain to suffer defeat.

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