WATCH: Tory MP in angry clash with Chris Grayling over no-deal Brexit plan to turn M26 into 'parking lot'
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has come under fire from a Conservative backbencher over plans to turn a motorway in his constituency into a “parking lot” if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.
In an angry Commons exchange, Tom Tugendhat revealed he only found out the work was taking place just hours before it began - having previously been assured it would not.
It was reported earlier this year that the motorway could be used as a holding area for lorries if delays build at Calais and Dover under a no-deal Brexit. Experts have warned that such a scenario would require a string of new checks at the UK border and could lead to major disruption for goods crossing the Channel.
Speaking at Transport Questions in the Commons, Tonbridge and Malling MP Mr Tugendhat said: “Will the Speaker agree with me that’s it’s come to a pretty pass when a member finds out that works have begun on a motorway to turn that motorway into a parking lot without consultation either with the local community or indeed with surrounding members?”
He added: “The M26 works started last night. I wrote to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in April asking whether or not this would happen.
“I was assured that works were not planned. And only yesterday was it confirmed to me that Highways England had said that that is exactly what is planned despite having told me the reverse only a week earlier.
“Would the Speaker agree with me and would he urge my Rt Hon Friend to explain to this House how this planning permission has been granted with no consultation?”
Mr Grayling said he was “very happy” to meet the Tory backbencher to “discuss” concerns about the Kent constituency.
But he insisted: “I have to say that I do not expect any of the contingencies that we have in place for a no-deal Brexit to be needed.”
Ministers have repeatedly said that they are working to avoid leaving the European Union without a deal. But the Road Haulage Association, which represents road transport operators, has said the implications of a no-deal Brexit would be “disastrous” and could turn Kent into “the UK’s biggest lorry park”.