06 APR 2017

We must be ready on Day One at the Dover & Deal frontline

Article 50 has been triggered and we're off. In two years we will leave the European Union. And on Day One of Brexit the sun shone brightly on our White Cliffs – a sign of brighter days ahead.

The White Cliffs are a symbol of freedom across the world – of our island's resilience and independence. For centuries, Dover has been the gateway and guardian of the kingdom. The front line that repelled Julius Caesar and saw off Napoleon. The skies in which the Battle of Britain was fought. Dover has always stood firm.

Once again Dover and Deal are at the frontline. A great proportion of Britain's trade with Europe comes through the port. Dover handles £120 billion of imports and exports every year as well as huge numbers of people. Deal or no deal, we need to be ready on day one.

Europe is only part of the problem. In many ways our greatest problems are those we create for ourselves. It takes years to build even the simplest road. Because there are always so many vested interests seeking to stop any work being done. Ask any driver and they'll tell you our roads are simply not up to the job.

It's little surprise that Michel Barnier, Europe's chief Brexit negotiator, claims there will be queues on the roads to Dover and Deal if there is 'no deal'. The entire system is so finely balanced there are already tailbacks every summer. Port chief Tim Waggott has also warned of repeats if we are not prepared at the Dover and Deal frontline. This simple truth is that gridlock at Dover means gridlock for the UK economy too

Over the past few months I've been working with the port as well as business and industry experts on both sides of the Channel. We've been looking at how to keep trade moving through Dover and Calais.

Key roads need to be upgraded right now. The M20 lorry park which we need to prevent the entire road system breaking down in the event of port problems is under threat. Vested interests – greenies and grumblers who don't care what's best for Dover and Deal – are seeking to stop it. Meanwhile the essential Lower Thames Crossing linking Kent and Essex is entering its third decade of planning. And the dualling of the A2 – axed by the last Labour government – must be back on the table.

We are going through a major change – one which will be written about in the history books. Yet the next two years can't just be about Brussels. Vital work needs doing here too.

So we won't just be ready on day one – Dover and Deal will be more successful and stronger than ever before.


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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!