Lib Dem leader hopeful Ed Davey ‘alarmed’ by cost of no-deal Brexit to Portsmouth

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A NATIONAL Lib Dem leader hopeful said the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on Portsmouth was 'alarming.’

Candidate for the Lib Dem leadership and former energy secretary, Ed Davey MP, voiced his shock during a briefing at the Portsmouth International port yesterday (July 10) where he heard plans that would cost Portsmouth and Hampshire councils around £4m.

Lib Dem leader candidate Ed Davey chats to Councillor Darren Sanders (left), and Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson during a visit to a new city build in Somerstown.'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (100719-02)

Lib Dem leader candidate Ed Davey chats to Councillor Darren Sanders (left), and Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson during a visit to a new city build in Somerstown.'Picture Ian Hargreaves (100719-02)

As previously reported in The News, only £345,000 of the estimated £4m cost will be covered by government as the Department for Transport (DfT) continually rebuffed fears that delays would cause lorries to queue on to the motorway.

Mr Davey said: 'It's pretty alarming - and not just the costs but the potential for things to go wrong despite all the planning.

'And I've been even more shocked that it's the Portsmouth council tax payers that are having to foot the bill.

'Considering the government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds, and have wasted that money, on bad preparations why can't they provide £4m to a council that is doing everything it can - that's outrageous.'

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The planned triage point to check lorry driver's documents before heading to the port would cost at least £30,000 a day to run - with the total of £4m only inclusive of six weeks worth of operation.

Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'The triage point will have to be managed 24 hours a day, which requires staff and we will need police there because it's on the motorway.

'We need to do this because if we clog up the M275 it will cause tailbacks on to the M27 and A27, which are the main artery along the south coast and that will lead to chaos.'

It is thought checks for lorries at the port will take two minutes longer - double the time - in the event of a no-deal Brexit. There are also concerns hold-ups will be caused by drivers without customs documentation.

Mr Davey believed another referendum was the way forward. 'We know now a huge amount more than we did three years ago, we know the costs, the complexities, the challenges', he added. 'There should be a final say.'