Government carry out no deal Brexit tests on traffic congestion around Dover
The Department for Transport had hoped around 150 lorries would take part in the test but only 79 turned up
The government is today carrying out a major test on how the country will cope with a no deal Brexit with 79 lorries descending on Kent before travelling to Dover, in a drill being referred to as 'Operation Brock'.
The test is designed to work out whether a disused Manston airport near Ramsgate would be suitable as a mass HGV holding bay with the aim of easing congestion on roads to Channel ports.
Testing no deal Dover traffic. 79 lorries at disused airport in Kent lined up to make journey down to Dover. road haulage association says today’s test is window dressing and can’t possibly mimicking the reality of 6k lorries which will be held here in no deal pic.twitter.com/cFO7AiYpVg
— lisa o'carroll (@lisaocarroll) January 7, 2019
Beginning at 8am on Monday the lorries began their journey to Britain's busiest cross-channel port in Dover with a second wave of trucks due to set off at 11am along the A256. The trucks will then make the 20 mile return journey back to the airfield.
The Department for Transport had hoped around 150 lorries would take part in the test but only 79 turned up. It hopes to establish "the safest optimum release rate of HGVs" through the drill.
However, a number of pro-Remain MPs attacked the drill as a waste of money. Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, of the anti-Brexit Best For Britain campaign, described the operation as a "taxpayer funded farce".
She added: "No deal doesn't need to be a real prospect but the government are just throwing money down the drain for effect.
"The idea that creating a fake traffic jam will show the EU we are ready for no deal is just plain stupid."
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.
"Any lessons learned from today and further mitigation measures will be considered carefully to ensure Operation Brock is fully functional if needed."