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David Davis urged to upgrade Kent border controls as ‘a Brexit priority’

PUBLISHED: 14:19 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:19 02 October 2017

Port of Dover

Port of Dover

Archant

Many fear the county could become gridlocked “almost permanently” if a bad deal is struck when leaving the EU

Upgrading Kent’s border controls must be a priority for the government after leaving the EU, David Davis has been told.

The leaders of South East England Councils (SEEC) and the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration (SESPM) wrote a joint letter to the Brexit secretary this week as fears grow of increased congestion at the ports after March 2019.

A recent report by consultancy firm, Oxera warned Kent could become gridlocked by an “almost-permanent instigation of Operation Stack” if a Brexit deal sees greater regulation and enforcement measures at the Port of Dover, impacting the UK economy by £1 billion.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has also repeatedly said the 14-hour queues experienced in his consituency last summer would be “a tea party” compared to what will happen if Britain is not fully prepared for leaving the EU.

The letter to Mr Davis says: “As UK negotiators work towards achieving the UK’s exit from the EU, local authorities across the south east want to urge you to prioritise upgrading of border controls for passengers and freight in advance of Brexit.

“Dover and Shepway councils have particular concerns about the future of borders as they are the UK gateways for the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, which is the closest port to the European mainland.”

The letter calls for juxtaposed border controls at Dover and Calais to remain in place, and the government is asked to pursue agreement on the future inspections required for food imported from the EU “as a matter of urgency”.

Mr Elphicke said: “It is great to see councils across the south east working together in this way.

“It is in the national interest to ensure we are ready on day for every eventuality of leaving the European Union. Nowhere will preparations be more vital than at the Dover frontline.”

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