COMMENT: We need to be seen as a Brexit cash priority case

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It’s hard not to sympathise with Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson over the amount of money the city has been allocated from government to combat Brexit port pressures.

Portsmouth has been given just over £136,000 while near neighbours Southampton have received nearly £273,000 – twice as much.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson is right to be ‘disappointed’ but ‘not surprised’.

He said: ‘While no-one disputes the importance of Southampton’s container port, a potential no-deal scenario would immediately affect Portsmouth.’

Unlike Southampton, Portsmouth operates cross-Channel ferries while our neighbours up the M27 will not face any instant kickback from Brexit. 

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was instrumental in securing the cash for the city.

She said: ‘My most recent asks to the Department for Transport were for the council to be able to better understand what the triggers were for Brittany Ferries to start selling additional ferry space and precisely when diversions from Dover might start to head towards Portsmouth.

‘Clarity of timelines is absolutely key to things going smoothly,’ she added.

She is right.

With just a little over a month to go before Brexit D-Day on March 29, visions on how leaving will affect our port and road infrastructure –  and the cash to implement it – should have been put into place months ago.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson says the council will need to spend millions of pounds to prepare our roads and port.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum has prioritised Portsmouth as the biggest potential issue in a no-deal scenario.

It’s no wonder Cllr Vernon-Jackson consistently feels let down by a government who seem unable to do the same and with a lack of engagement from the Department of Transport.