Whilst attempting to reassure MPs about the flow of goods after the end of the Brexit transition period, Gove said that five sites are being considered for dealing with traffic management.
During Cabinet Office questions, Labour former minister Hilary Benn raised the issue of how many sites in Kent are being considered for the building of infrastructure to check goods leaving the UK, after the government confirmed it had purchased a site in Ashford.
He said: ‘On Monday, when (Gove) was asked about a lorry park in Ashford, he told the House ‘It is not the case that any specific site has been absolutely confirmed, we are in commercial negotiations with a number of sites’.
‘So can he answer a very specific question: How many sites in Kent is he looking at to put infrastructure on, and, of those sites, how many will be to check the paperwork of goods leaving the UK and how many will be to check goods coming in to the UK?’
Gove, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, replied: ‘Well, there are five sites that we were looking at and indeed yesterday the Department for Transport confirmed that a site at Ashford has been secured.
Have your say
Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.
‘It is of course the case that these sites are there in order to facilitate traffic management and the flow of goods out of the country.
‘When it comes to the appropriate checks on goods coming in to the country, then of course at Calais it will be the case that the French authorities will be seeking to check export declarations.’
Gove also sought to assure MPs that the government is working to ensure that vital medicines will reach patients whatever the outcome of trade talks with the EU.
Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones asked for assurances that medical supplies would still be able to enter the UK quickly in the event a trade deal is not struck with the EU before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.
Gove replied: ‘The health of citizens is the first concern of the Government.
‘We will be working with the Department of Health and Social Care and other Government departments in order to ensure that category one goods – which of course include vital NHS supplies – can reach those on the front line.’
Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz accused the government of making decisions without MPs being able to hold them to account, and referred to the purchase of land in Kent for a potential lorry park.
But Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg replied: ‘The honourable lady complains that there was no holding to account about the buying of land in the Ashford constituency but that’s exactly what she’s doing.
‘She’s raising the point and trying to hold me to account for a decision made by the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. So there’s proper accountability.’