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Fear of 'chaos' rises as PM warns of increased no-deal Brexit risk

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Concerns are rising about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on areas as prime minister Theresa May warned “the risk of an accidental no deal increases” the longer there is uncertainty.

Ms May yesterday deferred the ‘meaningful’ Commons vote on the Brexit deal as she said it “would be rejected by a significant margin” as things stand.

While she is now meeting with European leaders in a bid to gain “further assurances” about the deal, and the Northern Ireland border plan in particular, she also said the government “will step up their work in preparation for” there being no deal.

Greater Manchester CA has warned its economy could lose up to £8bn if no deal is agreed, while Kent CC is urging the government to work closer with it, and provide extra funding, to ensure there is no “chaos” on the roads.

A report due to go before Greater Manchester’s leaders and mayor Andy Burnham (Lab) on Friday warned “the North West of England is one of the regions with the largest forecast reduction in Gross Value Added (GVA) under all scenarios over 15 years”.

It also warned a no deal scenario would result in the region’s economy being £8.2bn smaller. A hypothetical free trade agreement deal would result in Greater Manchester’s economy being £5.1bn smaller, while it would be £1.2bn smaller under a Norway-style scenario. Under the government’s white paper scenario, economic growth in Greater Manchester would be £400m smaller.

Meanwhile, Kent CC leader Paul Carter (Con) has warned of potential problems arising from Brexit and asked for an extra £20m investment to help manage traffic flows.

In a report due to go before councillors on Thursday it said: “It has been forecast that, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Kent will need to cope with holding up to 10,000 HGVs [heavy goods vehicles] on a routine basis.”

In 2015 almost 7,000 HGVs were contained on the M20 in Kent amid strikes and struggles due to increased immigration.

Cllr Carter said: “We must never forget the chaos that we had across half of this county in 2015.

“The M20 was closed in both directions – doctors couldn’t get to hospitals, domiciliary care workers struggled to reach their clients, weddings were cancelled.”

He claimed the incident, which lasted three weeks, cost the local economy about £1.5m a day, and the UK economy £250m a day.

Cllr Carter urged the government to do more to work closely with Kent CC, and its partners, on contingency plans. He also urged the government to provide the necessary funding to implement those plans.

He said: “The Department for Transport must share their plans at a national level with us and fast track the money through to us to invest in the necessary technology, barriers signage and vital preparation that we will need in Kent.

“£20m is not a massive amount to the government in the scale of things. These contingency plans are not just about Brexit. They should be in place to prepare the county for any eventuality – a fire in the channel tunnel, strikes and delays.

“With the help and support of the government and sensible planning I believe that we can avoid the chaos of the past.”

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