Latest On "Project Fear": UK Creates Artificial Traffic Jam Of 89 Trucks In 'No Deal' Test Run

As Theresa May and her cabinet grow increasingly desperate to whip up enough votes to pass her supremely unpopular Brexit withdrawal agreement, her government has taken their no-deal "Project Fear" to absurd new heights.

In a demonstration meant to give the British public (and their representatives) a taste of the chaos that economists and government officials warn could be unleashed if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, 89 lorries participated in an exercise at an abandoned airfield where they lined up in what critics described as an 'artificial traffic jam' starting at the Port of Dover.


Initially, some150 lorries had been expected to participate in the exercise, known as Operation Brock, which was also intended to test the site's suitability as a mass HGV holding bay.

While the government heralded the exercise as a 'success' - it was intended to prepare trucks for new customs checks for EU goods flowing through the port - a truckers' association warned that the preparations should have started 'months ago.'

In other words, under a genuine 'no deal' scenario, the traffic catastrophe at the Port would be much, much worse, according to the BBC

Its chief executive Richard Burnett said the trial "cannot possibly duplicate the reality of 4,000 trucks that would be held at Manston Airport in the event of a no-deal Brexit".

"It's too little too late, this process should have started nine months ago," he added.

"At this late stage it looks like window dressing."

A conservative MP representing Dover also questioned the usefulness of the exercise.

Conservative MP for Dover, Charlie Elphicke, also questioned the usefulness of the test.

"We've got to remember 10,000 lorries visit the Channel ports every single day so a test with less than 100 is not even a drop in the ocean," he said.

"Sending lorries around Kent on a wild goose chase all the way to Manston in the extreme north-east corner and then sending them to the Port of Dover by a small A road is not the right answer."

Though another MP said the minister from Dover was missing the point.

But Toby Howe, from Kent County Council, said: "What we're learning from this is not based on 1,000 lorries or whatever.

"What we want to know is how quickly they can actually get out of the airport behind us and how quickly they will get to the various points on the stage."

"So whether it's 10 lorries, 20 lorries, 100 lorries, that will give us enough information and will give the Department for Transport enough information to then learn from that."

The exercises began at around 8 am local time.

The drivers congregated in a large group at the former airfield before being directed by officials from the Department for Transport (DfT), Kent County Council and police officers along the A256 towards Dover.

The first practice run began in rush-hour shortly after 08:00 GMT, with four convoys leaving at intervals between 08:13 and 08:39.

The first of the convoys arrived in Dover at 08:52 where they were directed to do a loop around the Eastern Docks roundabout, travel along Jubilee Way and drive straight back to the airport.

A second test run got under way at 11:00.

Lorry drivers who spoke to the BBC on arrival back at Manston after the first test said there had been "no problems whatsoever".

Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay warned during a Parliamentary debate on Monday that the consequences of a 'no deal' Brexit would be "material". Yet, while he doubled-down on May's insistence that it's either her deal, no deal, or no Brexit, rebellious conservative MPs are pushing ahead with their latest alternative to May's plan in the form of an amendment to a finance bill that would effectively shut down the UK government in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit unless Article 50 is extended, or Parliament explicitly votes for a 'no deal' exit.