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No-deal Brexit ‘war game’ scorned

Reuters

A line of trucks is seen during a trial between the disused Manston Airport and the Port of Dover of how the road will cope in case of a "no-deal" Brexit, in Kent, Britain, on Monday.

Reuters MANSTON, England (Reuters) — A convoy of nearly 90 trucks rolled through the southeast English countryside to Britain’s main port to continental Europe on Monday in a government test-run for a potentially chaotic Brexit that was mocked as a farce by opponents of the split.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to force her Brexit deal through Parliament but lawmakers are expected to reject it.

If so, business chiefs and investors fear the world’s fifth-largest economy will leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on March 29 without an agreement on their future relationship.

With Parliament deadlocked, the ultimate destination of the Brexit project remains unclear. Possible outcomes range from another referendum on European Union membership to a disorderly departure with no deal.

May’s government has repeatedly warned that a no deal will lead to severe economic disruption, and Monday’s exercise was part of preparations to ensure essential supplies can keep flowing through Dover, Europe’s busiest ferry port.

The transport ministry said it was testing Manston airfield as a holding facility for trucks and traffic congestion on Kent roads in the event of disruption at the border.

Setting off from Manston, 87 trucks drove the 32 kilometers to Dover and back again. They then drove again to Dover. Hiring the trucks cost £48,950 ($62,484), the transport ministry said.

The “war game” was criticized by lawmakers as a waste of time and money and mocked on Twitter as “a fake traffic jam ... to show the EU we are ready for no deal.”

Britain’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the trial was too little, too late and would need to be repeated to properly stress-test the management of thousands of trucks.

“Less than a hundred lorries is a drop in the ocean compared to the more than 10,000 that go to the channel ports every day,” said Charlie Elphicke, a Conservative lawmaker for Dover.

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