As MPs prepare for Tuesday's Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, a letter to health partners sent on Friday by the health secretary Matt Hancock says revised cross-Government planning assumptions show there will be "significantly reduced access across the short straits" for up to six months under a no-deal Brexit scenario:
"Although we cannot know exactly what each member state will do with respect to checks on the EU border, the cross-Government planning assumptions have been revised so we can prepare for the potential impacts that the imposition of third country controls by member states could have," the letter from Hancock states.
"These impacts are likely to be felt mostly on the short straits crossings into Dover and Folkestone, where the frequent and closed loop nature of these mean that both exports and imports would be affected. The revised cross-Government planning assumptions show that there will be significantly reduced access across the short straits, for up to six months.
He adds: "This is very much a worst-case scenario. In a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU we would, of course, be pressing member states hard to introduce pragmatic arrangements to ensure the continued full flow of goods which would be to their benefit as well as ours. Nevertheless, as a responsible Government, we have a duty to plan for all scenarios."