Brexit: Dozens more lorry parks to be built across England to cope with trading chaos

Up to a further 29 lorry parks will be built across England in order to cope with border trading chaos after Brexit, under emergency government powers. Local residents will have no say over the construction of the sites, which are required because of growing fears that truck drivers will face long delays to enter the EU, or be turned away altogether. Some are in inland areas - Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Solihull - while others are in coastal trading hotspots, including in Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Haulage bosses - including the Road Haulage Association (RHA) - have demanded an urgent meeting with ministers over a blizzard of new IT systems and a lack of training for promised customs agents.

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The crisis looms regardless of whether the UK avoids crashing out without a trade deal, because the terms of any agreement will also end the current free-flow of goods with the EU. Traders fear that the supply of food and vital medicines will be disrupted, even as the UK risks a second spike of coronavirus infections, when the Brexit transition period expires on 1 January. The regulation triggering the order to build the lorry parks acknowledges that attempts by ports to cope with the vast new red tape have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The government is aware that the impact of coronavirus may have affected the ability of port operators and businesses to provide the necessary infrastructure by the end of the year," it reads.

Brexit timeline: How did we get here?

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Britain votes to leave the European Union - 23 June 2016

A referendum is held on Britain's membership of the European Union.

Fifty-two per cent of the country votes in favour of leaving

AFP via Getty

David Cameron resigns - 24 June 2016

David Cameron resigns on the morning of the result after leading the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU

Getty

Theresa May takes the reins - 13 July 2016

Theresa May becomes leader of the Conservative party and prime minister, winning the leadership contest unopposed after Andrea Leadsom drops out

Getty

High Court rules parliament must vote on Brexit - November 2016 - 3 November 2016

The High Court rules that parliament must vote on triggering Article 50, which would begin the Brexit process

Article 50 triggered - 28 March 2017

The prime minister triggers Article 50 after parliament endorses the result of the referendum

Getty

May calls snap election - 18 April 2018

Seeking a mandate for her Brexit plan, May goes to the country

Getty

May loses majority as Labour makes surprise gain - 8 June 2017

After a disastrous campaign, Theresa May loses her majority in the commons and turns to the DUP for support. Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party makes gains after being predicted to lose heavily

AFP/Getty

Negotiations begin - 19 June 2017

David Davis and Michel Barnier, chief negotiators for the UK and EU respectively, hold a press conference on the first day of Brexit negotiations. Soon after the beginning of negotiations, it becomes clear that the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will prove a major sticking point

AFP/Getty

MPs vote that withdrawal deal must be ratified by parliament - 13 December 2017

The government suffers a defeat in parliament over the EU withdrawal agreement, guaranteeing that MPs are given a 'meaningful vote' on the deal

Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary - 11 July 2018

Following a summit at Chequers where the prime minister claimed to have gained cabinet support for her deal, Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary along with David Davis, the Brexit secretary

Reuters

Draft withdrawal agreement - 15 November 2018

The draft withdrawal agreement settles Britain's divorce bill, secures the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa and includes a political declaration commiting both parties to frictionless trade in goods and cooperation on security matters.

The deal also includes the backstop, which is anathema to many brexiteers and Dominic Raab and Esther McVey resign from the cabinet in protest

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May resigns - 24 May 2019

After several failed attempts to pass her withdrawal agreement through the commons, Theresa May resigns

Reuters

Johnson takes over - 24 July 2019

Boris Johnson is elected leader of the Conservative party in a landslide victory. He later heads to Buckingham Palace where the Queen invites him to form a government

Getty

Parliament prorogued - 28 August 2019

Boris Johnson prorogues parliament for five weeks in the lead up to the UK's agreed departure date of 31 October.

Stephen Morgan MP

Prorogation ruled unlawful - 24 September 2019

The High Court rules that Johnson's prorogation of parliament is 'unlawful' after a legal challenge brought by businesswoman Gina Miller

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Johnson agrees deal with Varadkar - October

Following a summit in Merseyside, Johnson agrees a compromise to the backstop with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar - making the withdrawal agreement more palatable to Brexiteers

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Final Say march demands second referendum - 19 October 2019

As parliament passes the Letwin amendment requiring the prime minister to request a further delay to Brexit, protesters take to the streets in the final show of force for a Final Say referendum

Getty

Johnson wins 80 seat majority - 12 December 2019

The Conservatives win the December election in a landslide, granting Boris Johnson a large majority to pass through his brexit deal and pursue his domestic agenda

Getty

Withdrawal deal passes parliament - 20 December 2019

The withdrawal agreement passes through the commons with a majority of 124

Getty

EU parliament backs UK withdrawal deal - 29 January 2020

Members of the European parliament overwhelmingly back the ratification of Britain's departure, clearing the way for Brexit two days later on 31 January. Following the vote, members join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne

AFP/Getty

Until now, the only new lorry park identified was a 27-acre site being built in Kent to handle what has been condemned as "a vast customs bureaucracy, with costs passed on to the consumer".

As many as 10,000 trucks a day pass through Dover and other ports, and about four-fifths of the food reaching UK supermarkets comes from the EU, according to the British Retail Consortium.

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The government has pointed to the staggering GBP705m being spent on "infrastructure and technology at the border", to defend its border preparations. "We worked closely with industry in its development and will continue to do so as we move towards the end of the transition period," a spokesperson said. Richard Burnett, the RHA's chief executive, urged ministers to address "untried and untested IT systems" and "the lack of customs agents and clear processes for tackling the mountain of red tape traders will face".

"The government's pace is simply too slow on this, and that's why we - the people who run the UK's supply chain - need an urgent meeting with those at the top of government dealing with Brexit preparations."

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