Up to '300 soldiers and 180 police' in Portsmouth over Brexit gridlock

AROUND 180 police officers and up to ‘300 soldiers’ could be deployed to help contingency measures designed to stop gridlock in Portsmouth under a no-deal Brexit.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 10:29 pm
Portsmouth International Port. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Hampshire police confirmed 90 officers will be deployed per 24-hour period from October 31.

This week MP Tom Brake asked ministers at the House of Commons: ‘In relation to Operation Yellowhammer, may I ask the secretary of state what role the 300 troops and 180 police officers who are to be put on standby will play in policing the transport network in and around the port of Portsmouth, and how many other troops and police may be deployed at other ports?’

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As reported, a series of checkpoints on the A31 near Winchester and M275 at Tipner West will be run to prevent lorries backing up.

Just 13 hauliers without correct paperwork would cause a hold up blocking the M275.

The EU has agreed to an extension but has not yet said for how long. The Hampshire Local Resilience Forum has not yet pulled the contingency plans.

Mr Brake, a Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton in Greater London, said: ‘The 180 police officers are going to be probably coming from far-flung parts of the country.

‘Given the problems we have with policing in the country the abstraction of that number of police officers will leave great parts of the United Kingdom severely depleted of officers.’

When Mr Brake asked his question – twice on successive days to Conservative MPs James Cleverly and Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris – he was not given a detailed reply.

Tory party chairman Mr Cleverly said: ‘The broader point I would make is that the government are taking the appropriate action to ensure that we can leave without a deal if needs be.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: 'Putting already stretched soldiers and police officers on standby because of a constitutional crisis of the government’s own making is not only reckless, but also potentially a huge waste of taxpayer’s money. It’s money that could be better spent on city schools and hospitals.'

The Ministry of Defence has put in place contingencies to support communities and councils in the event of a chaotic Brexit.

However, sources within the department have told The News that so far, there are no concrete plans in place to put soldiers on the streets of Portsmouth.