Yellowhammer deemed ‘seriously misleading’ as leaked documents spell major problems for ports

A giant SOS message is projected on to the white cliffs of Dover. Photograph: Led By Donkeys.

A giant SOS message is projected on to the white cliffs of Dover. Photograph: Led By Donkeys. - Credit: Archant

The government has been accused of hiding the 'full picture' in its release of Yellowhammer documents after Department of Transport files were leaked to the press.

The contradicting reports suggest that Yellowhammer documents have significantly played down the impact of a no-deal Brexit on potential disruption to ports.

The documents, which were seen by the Financial Times (FT), significantly alter the picture on the capacity of both Dover and other ports to handle traffic in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Yellowhammer had claimed that there was a "low risk of significant sustained queues at ports outside of Kent which have high volumes of EU traffic".

But according to the Transport department documents, which date from August, the only reason for this would be because so many vehicles would be turned away for not having the correct paperwork or permits.

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The FT reports that this could reduce flow of traffic at Liverpool, Holyhead and Portsmouth by around two thirds, numering into tens of thousands of lorries.

Yellowhammer had already said that traffic through Dover could be reduced by 40 to 60%, with tailbacks of two and a half days in the first three months after a no-deal Brexit.

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But the documents seen by the FT also stated that lorry queues outside of Dover could number up to 8,500 vehicles, with tailbacks of an estimated 150km.

"Queues to get through customs in ports outside of Kent will be OK only if you assume that traffic flows will be significantly reduced before vehicles get to the port," a source told the FT. "Yellowhammer didn't give us the full picture ... one could say it was seriously misleading."

The Department for Transport declined to comment on the documents, but a spokesperson said: "If hauliers have the correct documentation, there should be limited disruption at the border."

"We have implemented a major campaign to ensure hauliers can take action to get ready and are able to operate and that trade can continue to move as freely as possible between the UK and Europe after Brexit," the spokesperson said.

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