No-deal Brexit: Lorry drivers 'could face two day waits without food or toilets'

Lorries queue to enter the Port of Dover in Kent Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Lorry drivers could face two-day long queues without food or toilets if the UK crashes out of the EU, hauliers have warned, while Michael Gove accused the EU of "putting up barriers" to Brexit negotiations.

A Road Haulage Association (RHA) spokesman said a no-deal Brexit means drivers may end up waiting in queues for more than 48 hours with no welfare facilities.

But Mr Gove claimed the UK is "ready to leave on October 31 deal or no deal", adding how the PM is "using all of his energy" to achieve a deal.

The RHA is among organisations that met Cabinet ministers Mr Gove, Priti Patel and Grant Shapps in Dover to discuss preparations for Brexit at the border.

Duncan Buchanan, policy director for the RHA in England and Wales, who met the Cabinet ministers, said: "I think people under-estimate the scale of the complexity of it."

Speaking about potential delays in Dover in a no-deal scenario, he said: "I believe the reasonable best-case scenario that authorities are working on is between 24- and 48-hour delays on all vehicles.

He added that another concern is that there is no provision for how vans are going to be dealt with.

“We have huge road delays. We have serious problems. If a lorry is caught up 24 hours on the motorway, where does the driver go to the toilet?

“They’re putting in no welfare provisions whatsoever. This is absolutely outrageous that drivers can be treated like they’re completely unimportant.

“There needs to be proper facilities for drivers so that their welfare is looked after,” he said.

While in Dover Mr Gove again attacked the EU's Brexit negotiations, accusing the bloc of "putting up barriers".

He told reporters at the Port of Dover: "I'm sad that the European Union appear not to want to talk at the moment.

"We've been clear that we want a deal and the Prime Minister is using all of his energy in order to make the message clear to our European friends that we want a good deal that works in all our interests.

"And we're approaching that in the spirit of friendliness.

"But at the moment, the EU appear to be putting up the barriers, saying that they don't want to talk.

"I'm sure they will change their mind, I hope they will change their mind, but we are ready to leave on October 31 deal or no deal."

Mr Buchanan said there are 60 working days to get this sorted, adding: “It needs to be done as a matter of speed.”

He said he has heard people say drivers will need to bring “picnic hampers” due to delays.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said, adding: “The idea that they’re going into the bushes to go to the toilet on the side of a motorway, I mean, what planet is that on?”

Lorry drivers could face huge queues at the Port of Dover if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Credit: PA

He also pointed out the legal issue whereby drivers of heavy goods vehicles are limited in the amount of hours they are allowed to drive in a day.

“So if they run out of working hours, they’re not allowed to drive so the queue will go in really funny and odd ways, because people are going to have to overtake people who are taking rests.

“Far more complicated than the average lay person understands.

“These are issues I wish I could say to you have been sorted out and have been addressed properly but they’re not,” he said.

Asked if it is possible to sort these issues out in 60 days, he said the first priority is to minimise the queues.

A view of the M20 motorway near Ashford in Kent, as one side of the main motorway to the Port of Dover closes for Operation Brock Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

“What we need to do is to have good, accurate and complete information so the lorries can get on the ferries and get off the ferries really quickly without anyone being turned around.

“If we get that done then the problem is minimised.

“That’s why we need the clear instructions from government, the training, provision, online training for traders, we need end to end journey explanations of who does what.

“At the moment traders don’t know what they have to do, they don’t know who they need to talk to, they don’t know who’s responsible for what.”