Brexit: Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:37 pm on 9th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of The Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury Bishop 4:37 pm, 9th January 2019

My Lords, one of the aspects of being a Bishop in your Lordships’ House is the inherent link to local communities through our dioceses. My own diocese being Canterbury, which covers the eastern end of Kent, I shall start by speaking for a moment about the small picture, about local issues in Kent, as an example that applies in many other places, that would be exacerbated and strained by the impact of a no-deal Brexit which serve as a reminder to us all of the seriousness of the challenges we face should we, perhaps by default rather than design, leave the EU without an agreement.

We have all seen in the media—it has been referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby—the artificially created traffic blip, rather than traffic jam, which was staged on Monday albeit with only 89 vehicles. In the case of this experiment, the reality we face is much worse. The channel ports handle over 10,000 lorries a day, so that 89 represented less than 1% of the flow.

Aside from delivery issues, if there are border delays as a result of no deal, which will of course impact on the rest of the country, in practical terms these lorries will take up an enormous amount of space. Anecdotally, one day’s lorry supply would stretch from Dover to Leicester. Furthermore, if 10,000 lorries are stuck in east Kent daily, 10,000 drivers will need to use the local facilities to eat, drink and go to the bathroom. That will have a major impact on local towns and villages, as was seen during Operation Stack three or four years ago.

Support services will be physically unable to access those in need. That was also our recent experience. If roads are logjammed people will be unable to get to work, small businesses, tourist sites and haulage companies will suffer very severely and go out of business, with an increase in unemployment. The burden on local communities and their infrastructure—