Sir Vince Cable: CI food supplies could ‘dry up’
THE supply of food to the Channel Islands could ‘dry up’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the leader of the Liberal Democrats has warned.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir Vince Cable – MP for Twickenham – this week said that Portsmouth could experience serious traffic disruption if the UK leaves the European Union without securing a deal.
Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, and four Hampshire councillors, have also issued the same warning in recent weeks.
It is feared that, in order to avoid potential delays at Dover because of increased Customs checks in France, freight companies might instead choose to use other ports, including Portsmouth – described by Sir Vince as the Channel Islands’ supply ‘lifeline’.
The city has warned that it could potentially lead to a tripling in the number of HGVs the harbour handles, rising to 1,500 and causing vehicles to queue onto motorways.
On Monday, 100 trucks were parked on a runway at a disused airport in Kent to see if the area could function as an HGV holding bay to prevent traffic jams on roads to Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
And Portsmouth authorities have since announced they are hoping to use the city’s former MOD Tipner firing range for the same purpose.
Speaking on Wednesday, Sir Vince said: ‘I had only 30 seconds in the House [of Commons] yesterday, but I mentioned the particular problem associated with exports through the port of Portsmouth. It is actually the lifeline to the Channel Islands – that is the main route.
‘The Channel Islands are not otherwise affected by Brexit, of course, but they will be in this case. If trade is obstructed at the port because of the need to comply with veterinary requirements, phytosanitary requirements and things of that kind, lorries will be obstructed and fresh produce will not be able to get through.
‘Quite apart from the disruption to traffic, the whole system of agricultural trade and the supply of food to the Channel Islands will simply dry up. We have an enormous practical problem resulting from this.’
Sir Vince added that he thought a no-deal Brexit was not a viable or acceptable option under any circumstances and that he would be calling on the government to revoke Article 50 in an attempt to reverse Brexit.
He added: ‘If I have made a contribution to this argument, it is in pointing out that this is not just a problem in Dover – this problem exists in all the ports around the country.
‘There is going to be serious disruption of supply chains, of the supply of fresh food and many other items.’