Brittany Ferries downplays fears of Brexit freight chaos in Portsmouth

Brittany Ferries' MV Mont Saint Michel leaves Portsmouth harbour. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Brittany Ferries' MV Mont Saint Michel leaves Portsmouth harbour. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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FEARS Portsmouth’s port will be ‘overwhelmed’ by hundreds of lorries in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been downplayed by a ferry firm.

Bosses at Brittany Ferries insisted the company is shoring up its plans to avoid the port becoming swamped by freight if Britain crashes out of the European Union on October 31.

The company is one of eight travel firms bidding for a lucrative government contract to import vital medicines into the UK after Brexit.

It comes after the government warned up to 75 per cent of the 500 or so lorries arriving to Portsmouth could be turned away for not having the right paperwork.

Nigel Wonnacott, group head of external communications at Brittany Ferries, insisted this figure was a ‘worst case scenario’ and unlikely to happen.

He said: ‘We don’t want to set too many hares running and terrify people that it will be inevitable that there will be chaos in Portsmouth. There’s sufficient planning in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.’

But he added: ‘If there were no communication campaigns then yes, one could assume a worst-case scenario of 75 per cent.’

Authorities have been scrambling to ready the city for the prospect of a no-deal Brexit causing chaos at the port.

Checkpoints will be placed near Winchester to ensure lorries have the right documentation to sail from Portsmouth.

While Portsmouth City Council has splashed out more than £1m to create a new lorry park in Tipner West and fund a traffic management plan to avoid queuing traffic clogging the M275.

Brittany Ferries has issued its own warnings to get customers ready for Brexit. But Mr Wonnacott said the firm was reluctant to send out ‘more direct information and advice’ until the government announced its final Brexit position.

‘We can only hit the button, with more direct information and clear advice, when we know what is happening with Brexit,’ he added.

‘There could be a very strong and detailed communication plan in the last week before Brexit where this happens.’

Questioned on whether he felt a week would be enough time to get the message out, Mr Wonnacott insisted: ‘Absolutely. One week will be enough.

‘You’ve got to remember it won’t just be us that will be communicating, the government will be too.’