Mr Boris Johnson, one of the two contenders in the contest for the Leadership of the Conservative Party has been in Sevenoaks in Kent today where he was asked about the removal of the 13 mile long barrier in the centre of the London bound side of the M20 from Junction 9 in Ashford and Junction 8 in Hollingbourne. It is understood that the he declined to answer the question.
Last week Faversham and Mid Kent MP Mrs Helen Whately was requested to ask both Mr Johnson and his rival, Mr Jeremy Hunt about their plans to remove the barrier which is not popular locally because it is potentially dangerous due to the narrowness of the lanes and the fact that there are no refuges. Additionally there is a 50mph speed limit and hundreds of UK drivers are fined £100 each month for speeding but foreign drivers get off free because there are no facilities for fining them. At the present time Mrs Whately is yet to produce an answer.
The barrier which is designed to produce a contraflow system on the London bound side has been reported on by a number of national and local media organisations over the last few months with several outside broadcasts from the Eyhorne Street bridge in Hollingbourne.
At the present time London bound traffic uses just the strengthened hard should and the nearside lane with the middle and outside lanes being empty. The coastbound side is used for traffic as normal but when and if the UK leaves the Customs Union, it will be used for storing 2000 lorries awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel. Non lorry traffic will be diverted across the central reservation to the presently unused outside and middle lanes of the London bound side. At the same time the coastbound slip road from Junction 8 will be closed and drivers wishing to go coastbound will have to access the M20 at Junction 7.
Kent Online has reported his visit to Kent as follows:
Boris Johnson ducks questions on lifting M20 barrier between Hollingbourne and Ashford on visit to Sevenoaks
By Paul Francis
Published: 13:04, 01 July 2019
Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson has ducked questions on lifting a controversial steel barrier which has left motorists facing a lengthy 50mph limit on the M20 in case of a no-deal Brexit.
On a whistlestop tour of a garden centre in Sevenoaks, Mr Johnson refused to say whether he was willing to intervene to stop the M20 becoming a lorry park if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
A steel barrier designed to put a contraflow in place on the motorway has remained in place between junctions 8 and 9 from Maidstone to Ashford.
This is despite the original date for Brexit passing on March 29, when there were concerns lorries might end up queuing for the Port of Dover because longer customs checks would be brought in if there was no deal.
It has left drivers facing a lengthy 50mph speed limit on the route.
Mr Johnson sidestepped a question about whether he would act to lift the controversial contraflow system.
He said: “It is absolutely right that we get ready for a no-deal Brexit, even though I don’t believe that is where we are going to end up.
“If it does we will get through it and there will be a high degree of preparedness.
“What you can’t do is keep saying that you have a deadline of October 31st and then saying ‘well, actually, it’s not a deadline at all’.”
Mr Johnson played down concerns that Kent would not be ready if the nation heads for a cliff-edge no-deal Brexit.
He said: “We will make sure that every step is taken to mitigate impacts of all kinds whether it is transport in Kent or the agricultural sector.
“We will get it done but what I would say to people is this is a great country and we have spent a long time waiting for this – there are more difficult things in the world that countries have to do.
“Ample preparations were made to come out on March 31st – we were very nearly there.
“Those plans sagged back again – that was a mistake.”
He suggested the cost of preparing the country for a no-deal and mitigating the impact on people and business could be met by the £39 billion dividend that would come to the UK as a result of leaving.
“Don’t forget that logically there will be available to the government a £39 billion dividend to spend mitigating any impact.”
Away from Brexit, Mr Johnson suggested he would not make it a priority to lift a ban on new grammar schools.
He said: “I am in favour of every child having the best possible education for every child in this country.
“I do happen to think that having academic competition is a fantastic thing and a great utensil of progress but I prefer to focus on what I want to do, which is spending more per pupil in all of our schools around the country. “Because what I believe has happened since 2015 is that too many schools have fallen behind – and that is what I will be focusing on.”
Pictured below is Mr Johnson in Sevenoaks. He is not expected to visit Hollingbourne and Mid Kent even though these areas are already affected by Brexit because of the barrier on the M20.