Brexit: Police to stop lorries without permits entering Kent in new 'internal border'

Police will patrol the Kent border to turn away lorries without an “access permit” in a bid to ease Brexit border chaos, it has been revealed. Michael Gove said officers will use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and “other means” to block drivers – in what will be seen as an “internal border” in the UK. The move would try to ensure “constituents are not inconvenienced”, he told MPs, after warning of 7,000-long lorry queues and two-day delays to cross the Channel.

But Labour accused him of planning “to arrest British truckers”, while furious hauliers said they were being lined up to take the blame for the looming disruption. Under questioning, Mr Gove twice refused to reveal how many of his promised 50,000 “customs agents” – to help businesses prepare for a mountain of new red tape – have been recruited.

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And he declined to say whether a new IT system will be “operational in January”, with just 100 days until the end of the transition period. The Cabinet Office minister was setting out a new “worst case scenario”, which acknowledges 70 per cent of trucks may not be ready for new checks to cross the Channel.

Damian Green, the former deputy prime minister and a Kent MP, warned the threat of 7,000-strong lorry queues would “send a chill” through local people.

In reply, Mr Gove said: “We want to make sure that people use a relatively simple process in order to get what will become known as a Kent Access Permit, which means that they can then proceed smoothly through Kent, because they do have the material required.


Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

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1/37Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square


Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Pro-Brexit supporters celebrating in Parliament Square, after the UK left the European Union on 31 January. Ending 47 years of membership

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Big Ben, shows the hands at eleven o’clock at night

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Pro Brexit supporters attend the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage smiles on stage

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

People celebrate in Parliament Square

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

A Brexit supporter celebrates during a rally in Parliament square

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Police form a line at Parliament Square to prevent a small group of anti-Brexit protestors from going through to the main Brexit rally

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Nigel Farage speaks to pro-Brexit supporters

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Pro-Brexit supporters in Parliament Square, London, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, ending 47 years of close and sometimes uncomfortable ties to Brussels. PA Photo.

Picture date: Friday January 31, 2020. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire Jonathan Brady

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

JD Wetherspoon Chairman Tim Martin speaks as people wave flags

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Jeff J Mitchell

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit supporters wave Union flags as they watch the big screen

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage arrives

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit supporters gather

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Ann Widdecombe speaks to pro-Brexit supporters

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit supporters wave Union flags as they watch the big screen

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit supporters wait for the festivities to begin in Parliament Square, the venue for the Leave Means Leave Brexit Celebration in central London on January 31, 2020, the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. – Brexit supporters gathered outside parliament on Friday to cheer Britain’s departure from the European Union following three years of epic political drama — but for others there were only tears.

After 47 years in the European fold, the country leaves the EU at 11:00pm (2300 GMT) on Friday, with a handful of the most enthusiastic supporters gathering opposite the Houses of Parliament 12 hours before the final countdown. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images) ISABEL INFANTES

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

People wave British Union Jack flags as they celebrate

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Pro-Brexit demonstrators celebrate on Parliament Square on Brexit day

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

A pro-Brexit supporter jumps on an EU flag

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England. At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) Leon Neal

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit supporter wave Union flags as they wait near a statue of British war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for the festivities to begin in Parliament Square, the venue for the Leave Means Leave Brexit Celebration in central London on January 31, 2020, the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. – Brexit supporters gathered outside parliament on Friday to cheer Britain’s departure from the European Union following three years of epic political drama — but for others there were only tears. After 47 years in the European fold, the country leaves the EU at 11:00pm (2300 GMT) on Friday, with a handful of the most enthusiastic supporters gathering opposite the Houses of Parliament 12 hours before the final countdown. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images) ISABEL INFANTES

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Brexit supporters gather in Parliament Square, London, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union after 47 years.

PA Photo. Picture date: Friday January 31, 2020. See PA story POLITICS Brexit.

Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire Jonathan Brady

PA

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England. At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Leon Neal

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

People draped in UK flags walks across Parliament Square during a rainfall in London, Friday, Jan.

31, 2020. Britain officially leaves the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) Kirsty Wigglesworth

AP

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England.

At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Jeff J Mitchell

Getty

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

A man waves Union flags from a small car as he drives past Brexit supporters gathering

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

A pro-Brexit supporter pours beer onto an EU flag

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England. At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Jeff J Mitchell

Getty

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

An EU flag lies trampled in the mud

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Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England. At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Jeff J Mitchell

Getty

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Pro-EU supporters in Parliament Square, London, ahead of the UK leaving the European Union at 11pm on Friday.

PA Photo. Picture date: Friday January 31, 2020. See PA story POLITICS Brexit.

Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire Jonathan Brady

PA

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

A pro-EU supporter in Parliament Square, London, ahead of the UK leaving the European Union at 11pm on Friday. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday January 31, 2020.

See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire Jonathan Brady

PA

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England. At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) Jeff J Mitchell

Getty

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 31: Pro Brexit supporters gather ahead of the Brexit Day Celebration Party hosted by Leave Means Leave at Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England.

At 11.00pm on Friday 31st January the UK and Northern Ireland exits the European Union, 188 weeks after the referendum on June 23rd, 2016. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) Leon Neal

Getty

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

Pro-Brexit supporters in Parliament Square, London, ahead of the UK leaving the European Union at 11pm on Friday. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday January 31, 2020.

See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire Jonathan Brady

PA

Brexit celebrations in Parliament Square

An anti-Brexiteers stands with his dog in Parliament Square in central London on January 31, 2020 on the day that the UK formally leaves the European Union. – Britain on January 31 ends almost half a century of integration with its closest neighbours and leaves the European Union, starting a new — but still uncertain — chapter in its long history. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images) GLYN KIRK

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“If they don’t have the material required, then it will be the case that through policing, ANPR cameras and other means, we’ll do our very best to ensure that his constituents are not inconvenienced.” Rachel Reeves, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, attacked the announcement, saying: “It is incredible that ministers are only now admitting to their plans to arrest British truckers for entering Kent without new travel passports.

“With just over three months to go, how are businesses meant to prepare amid this Conservative carnival of incompetence?” The Food and Drink Federation warned that 7,000-long lorry queues would mean fruit and vegetables “will not arrive fit for human consumption”. And the haulage group Logistics UK also hit back at Mr Gove, saying it was his responsibility to give firms the “details of and access to” promised new IT systems.

“Logistics UK has long warned government of the potential for border delays after the UK leaves the EU, and while there is still time to put mitigations in place to avoid them, it will be a huge challenge for government and industry to achieve,” it said. 

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Asked, repeatedly, how many customs agents are in place, Mr Gove claimed: “I cannot precisely state at any given time in a dynamic market how many people are doing exactly what job.” He added: “What I can state is that the ?80m that we’ve made available has not yet been fully drawn down. “But any company that is in this area will know that come 1 January there will be an increased opportunity for their work, so this is an opportunity to expand and the government stands ready to help that.”

Meanwhile, MPs have raised fears about the “safe operation of the Channel Tunnel” from January, accusing the government of failing to make preparations. France and the UK were expected to negotiate changes needed because of Brexit – but ministers have yet to put forward a new safety framework, they say. If a deal is not struck by the end of the transition period, in little more than three months’ time, the legal status of a treaty dating back to 1986 is uncertain.

This will raise “concerns about the safe operation of the tunnel after 31 December, given that most EU law will no longer apply in the UK”, the report by the Commons European Scrutiny Committee warned.

If there are disputes, “France will be able to take unilateral action to regain control of its section of the tunnel”, it suggested.

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