Businesses are stockpiling goods to avoid disruption to cross-Channel deliveries from 1 January
Brexit uncertainty on top of the usual volume of Christmas traffic have caused huge queues in Kent, with a line of lorries stretching five miles up the M20 as they head for the Channel tunnel.
Many businesses are stockpiling goods in an effort to avoid disruption to cross-Channel deliveries, which is expected to occur when Britain leaves the EU at the end of December. With the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looming, uncertainty has been growing among businesses about the impact the departure might have.
Combined with the normal increase in activity around Christmas, this has frequently caused travel delays for freight drivers in recent weeks.
On Saturday morning, the queues on the motorway leading to the Channel tunnel entrance began in the Ashford area and stretched several miles to the tunnel’s entrance at Folkestone. There were also long queues of HGVs along the M20 between Capel-le-Ferne and the port of Dover.
A government report published on Saturday said businesses were being “held back” by the lack of a trade deal with the EU, with negotiators warning that a no deal was looking likely.
The report, from the House of Commons committee on the future relationship with the European Union, said the government’s attempts to communicate with businesses over the impact Brexit might have on them “appear patchy at best”.
“Little time now remains and, in making their preparations, businesses continue to be held back by restrictions imposed to control the spread of Covid-19, a lack of detailed guidance and continued uncertainty over the final terms of the UK-EU future relationship,” it said.
However, the port of Dover chief executive, Doug Bannister, said on Friday he was confident the port would be able to handle any uncertainty.
“Dover has a proven track record to handle disruption in a good, successful way, and we are able to manage the disruption and importantly recover the position very swiftly indeed,” he said.
He also said the rush in freight in the run-up to Christmas could mean the following weeks were quieter.
Last month, queues of a similar length built up in Kent when French authorities began their trial of post-Brexit travel checks. The queues gave a glimpse of the impact Brexit could have on travel across the Channel when it comes into force in January.