Local MP supports Mrs May’s Brexit deal that was defeated by 432 votes to 202.

Faversham and Mid Kent MP Mrs Helen Whately voted for Mrs May’s Brexit withdrawal bill in the House of Commons this evening when it was defeated by 432 votes to 202 which prompted a motion of no confidence from Mr Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, that will be debated tomorrow in Westminster. Maidstone MP, Mrs Helen Grant also voted to support the defeated Brexit withdrawal bill. It is expected that the Government will win the confidence motion.

Details of all the records of the MP’s in Parliament this evening are at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2019/jan/15/how-did-your-mp-vote-on-mays-brexit-deal-meaningful-vote

Hollingbourne has a particular interest in the matter as the transport corridor through the Parish carries at least a fifth of the UK’s international trade. According to published data the Port of Dover handles over 10,000 lorries a day and some £122 billion of trade each year which accounts for some 17% or about one sixth of the UK’s foreign trade. In addition Eurotunnel carries a further £91 billion of trade each year or about 13% of UK trade. Most of this trade passes through Hollingbourne on the M20 with some on the railway line through Hollingbourne Station so it is reasonable to assume that at least of fifth of UK overseas trade passes through Hollingbourne each year. HS1, formerly known, as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link or CTRL, which passes through the village does not carry freight and was never designed to do so and the gradients of the track mean that regular freight traffic is not practicable.

If the UK leaves the Customs Union and Single Market after Brexit then Customs clearance time at Dover and Eurotunnel will increase from around 2 minutes per lorry to at least 20minutes  which will create traffic jams across Kent and possibly around Hollingbourne in particular. Customs delays at Dover and Eurotunnel will initially be handled by the TAP system that requires waiting trucks to be parked alongside the M20. When this is full the M20 between Junction 8 in Hollingbourne and Junction 9 in Ashford will be used to store 2,000 lorries on the coastbound side with the London bound side being dualled to take lorry and other traffic from the Channel and non lorry traffic to the Channel. Where the carriageway has been already dualled there have been frequent accidents because of the narrowness of the lanes.

As and when the M20 is full up lorries will be diverted from Junction 7 on to the A249 and on to the M2 where they will be stored at the former Manston Airport where there is space for 6,000 lorries. If this is full up lorries will be stored on the M26 which links the M20 with the M25. Just now there are no facilities alongside the M20, M26, or at Manston Airport for the thousands of drivers who may be trapped there awaiting Customs clearance.

During Operation Stack in 2015 when Calais was closed for over 30 days and the M20 was used as a lorry park there was severe traffic congestion in Kent and many businesses suffered. It took some time for matters to return to normal and the concern is that similar traffic problems will reoccur.

Mrs Helen Whately can be contacted at helen.whately.mp@parliament.uk

Mrs Helen Whately MP – Faversham and Mid Kent – Conservative.