Brexit: Tory MP clashes with Chris Grayling over plan to turn motorway into ‘parking lot’ in no-deal scenario

Brexit: Tory MP clashes with Chris Grayling over plan to turn motorway into ‘parking lot’ in no-deal scenario


A Tory MP has clashed with Chris Grayling after it emerged the government is planning to use part of the M26 motorway as a “parking lot” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Tom Tugendhat, the MP for Tonbridge and Mailing, claimed work had begun on the motorway in the south-east on Wednesday evening and said the community had been kept in the dark over the plans devised by the Department for Transport (DfT). 

It comes as amid mounting concern over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and escalating pressure on Theresa May from both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and hardline Brexiteers, who are threatening to derail the prime minister’s plans.

If the negotiations end without a deal, the plans mean part of the M26 in Kent could be used a holding areas for lorries in order to ease potential gridlock, amid concerns that a no-deal Brexit may result in delays at the nearby port of Dover.

Appearing visibly frustrated in the Commons, Mr Tugendhat said: “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 with surrounding members.” 

He continued: “The M26 works started last night. I wrote to [Mr Grayling] in April asking whether or not this would happen.

“I was assured the works were not planned and only yesterday was it confirmed to me that Highways England has said that is exactly what was planned, despite having told me the reverse only a week earlier.”

Mr Tugendhat then urged the transport secretary to explain how the planning permission was granted, with “no consultation”.

Responding, Mr Grayling offered to meet the MP and said he did not expect any of the contingencies in place for a no-deal scenario to be needed as he was “confident” and Brexit agreement would be reached with Brussels.

There will be overnight closures on the motorway until Monday and in the run up to Christmas between November 19 and December 21 while the work is carried out. Diversions will be in place via the M25 and M20.

A spokesman for Highways England added: “As part of wider resilience planning, Highways England has been asked by the Department for Transport to develop plans to utilise the M26 to hold heavy goods vehicles, should further capacity be required in the future.

“We will be undertaking site surveys on the M26 during October leading to the installation of two gates in the central reservation to support the safe management of freight in the future, if needed.”


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