Operation Brock came into force at 6am this morning – three days before the UK is due to withdraw from the EU and the day Parliament votes on whether to hold a snap general election. It comes amid signs Brussels is set to grant a fresh Brexit delay until the end of January after Boris Johnson was forced to request a further extension under the terms of the so-called Benn Act.
We have worked extensively with our partners in Kent to ensure that the county is as prepared as possible
The traffic measures are designed to keep the M20 open in both directions in case there is a disruption to services across the English Channel.
Lorries heading for Europe will face a 30mph limit on a 13-mile stretch of the coastbound lanes of the M20.
All other traffic on the motorway, including lorries carrying out UK deliveries, must use a 50mph contraflow of two lanes in each direction on the London-bound side of the road.
Several holding areas to park lorries are also available to be activated if required, including at Manston Airfield.
Hauliers must be ready to show they have the correct paperwork before reaching the border or face being turned back.
Motorists have been warned to allow for extra travel time and to make sure they have food and water in their vehicles in case of delays.
Highways England south east operations director Nicola Bell said Operation Brock is part of a set of measures in place to allow the M20 and the rest of Kent to keep moving in the event of cross-channel disruption.
She said: ”We have worked extensively with our partners in Kent to ensure that the county is as prepared as possible for any disruption to cross-channel services.”
Operation Brock was initially deployed on March 25 four days ahead of the first planned Brexit date.
It was deactivated about three weeks later following the delay to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, but the steel barriers for the contraflow system and 50mph speed limit remain in place
Drivers should check conditions before setting out and, if they are crossing the channel, check with their service operator for updates.
Speed limits have also been cut from 60mph to 40mph on the M275 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, to avoid congestion at Portsmouth International Port.
A Portsmouth City Council spokesman said: “The Hampshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has been preparing for a reasonable worst-case scenario in the event of a no-deal, with a particular focus on any potential traffic congestion at Portsmouth International Port arising from a change to customs requirements.
“With the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal next week, and the latest national planning assumptions suggesting that up to 70 per cent of HGVs would not be ‘border ready’ on day one of a no-deal, the contingency arrangements are now being implemented.”
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MPs will vote later on whether to back a December general election while EU ambassadors decide on the length of a Brexit extension.
The Prime Minister’s election bid, to be made under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), would require a two-thirds Commons majority – 434 MPs – to agree to an election on December 12.
Brussels appears poised to agree to Mr Johnson’s reluctant request for an extension until January 31.
The Prime Minister has said in the past he would prefer to be “dead in a ditch” than miss the October 31 deadline.
He is unlikely to secure “super majority” support for a December election but knows he will require 100 fewer MPs to grant the same request just 24 hours later.
Labour’s lack of support for the proposal means it is likely to be defeated when voted upon tonight.
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