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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Lorries take part in planned traffic jam as UK prepares for no-deal Brexit

The trial run is to see how the road network would cope with disruption at the port of Dover

Lorries are seen queueing in the A259 road during a test drive to the Port of Dover. EPA
Lorries are seen queueing in the A259 road during a test drive to the Port of Dover. EPA

More than 80 lorries participated in a planned traffic jam in southeast England on Monday as part of a series of government measures to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

The test was designed to see how Britain’s road network would cope with a potential tailback caused by delays at the port of Dover, which serves as the main trading gateway to continental Europe.

Lorry drivers were paid to drive their vehicles around a disused airport in Kent to see how the motorway dealt with disruption caused by increased traffic.

Anti-Brexit campaigners have warned that the county of Kent could become the world’s biggest lorry park in the event of no-deal.

"We do not want or expect a no-deal scenario and continue to work hard to deliver a deal with the EU," a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport, who organised the trial, said.

"However, it is the duty of a responsible government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no-deal."

The test, which reportedly cost almost £50,000 (Dh234,000) in drivers' fees alone, was criticised by anti-Brexit MPs.

Layla Moran, from second referendum campaign group Best for Britain, described the exercise as a “taxpayer funded farce”.

“No deal doesn't need to be a real prospect but the government are just throwing money down the drain for effect,” the Liberal Democrat MP said.

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Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has agreed a Brexit withdrawal text with the EU but needs parliament to approve the deal in a crunch vote which has been postponed until January 15.

Mrs May has warned MPs that if her text is rejected, Britain will leave the world’s biggest trading bloc on March 29, 2019 without a deal.

More than 200 MPs from the main political parties wrote to the prime minister on Monday to ask her to rule out the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman, who organised the letter, said the signatories included both Remain and Leave supporting MPs.

She warned that leaving the EU without a deal would cause damage for the British economy.

But writing in The Daily Telegraph on Monday, former foreign minister Boris Johnson said leaving without an agreement was the preferred option for those who voted to leave in the 2016 referendum.

Mr Johnson’s comments followed a survey by independent polling company YouGov which revealed that most rank and file Conservative Party members oppose Mrs May’s deal.

The poll, which surveyed 1,215 members, showed that 59 per cent are opposed to the withdrawal text and 76 per cent believe warnings of no-deal disruption had been “exaggerated or invented”.

Updated: January 7, 2019 05:22 PM

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