Ramsgate considered as Brexit deal discussed
As the Cabinet of the UK convenes to discuss a draft deal agreed by UK and EU negotiators on the UK’s departure from the EU, it has emerged that the nation’s government has designated up to £200m for development of the country’s Port of Ramsgate, with it being claimed that transport ministers are planning to turn the facility into “a new Dover” under a no-deal Brexit.
According to the Financial Times, the government’s Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling is drawing up plans to expand the port to try and get round the Dover–Calais bottleneck, which a messy Brexit could choke.
The newspaper also said that the Secretary of State feels that new Ramsgate facilities would increase cross-Channel trade with the country of Belgium, placing pressure on President of France Emmanuel Macron to minimise any new border checks at France’s Calais.
Plan in focus
Mr Grayling’s plan is part of a UK Government move to develop other sea routes to facilitate EU trade, including on perishable items like food.
Located around 32 kilometres from the town of Dover in the southeast of England, Ramsgate would make for a convenient Calais shipping link.
However, according to the Financial Times, the plan will not likely be developed enough to permit the UK to avoid chaos and possible food shortages if it departs the EU without an agreement in March and immediate checks are brought in on trucks going across the Strait of Dover.
Officials briefed on Mr Grayling’s plans said that back-up plans also existed for boosted freight traffic and lorry parking space at the Port of Sheerness, located in Kent — the same English county as Dover and Ramsgate.
Yet, with Ramsgate currently unable to handle big vessels, Whitehall officials have said that the Secretary of State is exploring dredging the port.
In light of the November 14 meeting, United Kingdom Major Ports Group (UKMPG) chief executive Tim Morris said that all complex agreements require careful reading and consideration, with nobody ever getting everything they desire.
“The ‘walk away’ option needs to be well-thought-through and a very practical alternative,” he noted.
The chief executive added that although UKMPG awaits more detail on the proposed deal before passing judgement, it does so “with the confidence that the UK port sector is resilient and flexible”, with Mr Morris saying that the industry has successfully adapted to major changes previously, as it will do with Brexit.
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