By Ned Simons
There is a “significant” risk UK ports will not be ready to deal with a no deal Brexit, an influential House of Commons committee has warned.
The report, published on Wednesday, slammed the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for shrouding his preparations in “secrecy”.
The MPs on the public accounts committee also raised concerns about the “slow progress” made in testing whether Project Brock – the plan to turn 13-miles of the M20 heading towards Dover into a lorry park – would work.
“There is a real prospect of major disruption at our ports,” the MPs said.
Meg Hiller, the Labour chair of the committee, warned there was still a lot of work to be done despite time running out.
“The risks associated with no-deal are severe, yet plans for avoiding disruption around major ports in particular are worryingly under-developed,” she said.
“The secrecy around the Department’s preparations, and the shortcomings in assurance on its progress, are a potentially toxic combination.”
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a Conservative member of the committee, also warned the department had a “great deal to do”.
“It needs to make whatever contingencies necessary to ensure that disruption to passengers, goods and services arriving or leaving by road, air or sea is kept to the bare minimum,” he said.
The committee criticised the Department for Transport (DfT) for covering its engagement “under the cloak” industry in non-disclosure agreements.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said questions she asked in parliament revealed the DfT signed 28 NDAs with external companies and organisations.
“It is utterly irresponsible that Conservative Ministers are leaving businesses and the public in the dark about the risks of delays and chaos at British ports if we leave the EU,” she said.