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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

Britain to charter ships to bring food supplies in event of a no-deal Brexit

Theresa May will hold weekly cabinet meeting to prepare for any scenario

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May stands to answer a question during Prime Minister's Questions inside the House of Commons in London.  AP
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May stands to answer a question during Prime Minister's Questions inside the House of Commons in London.  AP

Britain is devising ways to avoid food and medicines shortages in the event of a disorderly exit from the EU, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

Theresa May urged ministers in a cabinet meeting to find ways to secure a breakthrough of perishable goods in the event of the Dover-Calais route becoming blocked by new customs control on the French side.

The prime minister also announced that there would be a weekly cabinet meeting for ministers to present updates on Brexit preparations and prepare for any scenario. However, “the government’s priority is to secure a deal,” Mrs May told cabinet.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Dover-Calais port could run at only 12-25 per cent of its capacity for up to six months, David Lidington, Mr’s May’s de facto deputy, said. Britain relies on the EU to provide 30 per cent of its food supplies.

One option raised by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling would be hiring entire vessels, or securing space in ships, to get food, medicines and other supplies in through alternative British ports, avoiding a bottleneck in Dover.

Pauline Bastidon, head of European policy and the Freight Transport Association, said it was “hard to see where the extra ships would quickly be found,” the Financial Times reported.

The Eurosceptic Tory party rejected the idea that the French would acquiesce to a disruption of the Dover-Calais route and the economic damage that would ensue.

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