This week I met with the Brexit Minister to discuss the importance of investing in our ports – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline. As we prepare to leave the European Union we need to make sure that we are in the best position possible to succeed and prosper in the world. A vital part of these preparations must be ensuring that our ports are Ready on Day One.
I took a group of MPs who represent port constituencies to meet the Minister. We stressed the importance of the port-related jobs in our areas. And we all agreed that is vital that Brexit is a success at our ports up and down the land.
Nowhere will our preparations for Brexit be more important than at the Dover and Deal frontline. When we voted to leave the EU last June, I got to work straight away. The first thing to do was get the Calais Jungle dismantled. We worked closely with the French and within months the migrant camp was gone
I also met industry experts and business leaders in Parliament. With their help, I put together a detailed plan to keep trade flowing and ensure that we can thrive as a global trading nation post-Brexit.
Of course, we hope that a trade deal will be done with the EU that will enable tariff-free trade to continue. Yet if on day one no trade deal has been agreed, we must be fully prepared.
This means putting in place simple things like a Trusted Trader Scheme for haulage firms – and mutual recognition of meat products. And we need investment in state of the art technology to deal with customs checks rapidly. Singapore's average customs clearance time is 10 seconds. If we invest now, goods can move just as swiftly through Dover.
We also urgently need investment in our roads. The new Thames Crossing must be taken forward at speed. The M2/A2 needs to be upgraded and dualled all the way to the Channel Ports. And the planned M20 Lorry Park must be delivered on time.
Too often vested interests get in the way and it takes years to build the simplest road. Yet we have less than two years to get ready. That's why I'm campaigning for a Brexit Infrastructure Bill. We need a powerful new law to speed through administrative processes to enable vital projects to be delivered on time.
So far there's been a lot of posturing from Brussels, which comes as no surprise. But the reality is that it is in both Britain and Europe's interests for trade to grow. The French are just as keen as we are to keep tourists and truckers moving freely across the Dover and Calais border.
That's why my plan matters – so we are prepared for every eventuality to keep trade flowing across the English Channel.
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