Tory MP clashes with transport secretary as work begins to turn M26 into ‘parking lot’

Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, in the House of Commons. (Parliament TV)

Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, in the House of Commons. (Parliament TV) - Credit: Archant

A senior Tory MP has hit out at the transport minister Chris Grayling for leaving him in the dark as work began to turn the M26 into a 'parking lot' ahead of Brexit.

Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, said overnight work had started despite assurances nothing was planned.

Concerns were ramped up further when Kent County Council Highways wrongly tweeted the motorway was to be closed overnight from November 19 until March 29 - the day Britain is set to leave the EU.

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Transport secretary Chris Grayling said he did not expect any of the no-deal Brexit contingencies to be required as he believes a deal will be struck with Brussels.

Part of the M26 in Kent could be used as a holding area 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.

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Speaking in the Commons, 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.

'The M26 works started last night. I wrote to (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 had said that is exactly what was planned, despite having told me the reverse a week earlier.'

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He urged Grayling to explain how the planning permission was granted with 'no consultation'.

Grayling said he was happy to meet the MP to discuss the issue, adding: 'I do not expect any of the contingencies that we have in place for a no-deal Brexit to be needed because I'm confident we will reach a sensible agreement.'

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