Boris Johnson yesterday said the European Union’s demands were ‘unacceptable’ and needed ‘fundamental change of approach’ – and warned business to prepare accordingly for an Australia-type deal.
The prime minister’s spokesman later told Westminster reporters that talks were ‘over’ ahead of the transition period ending on December 31.
Now after Mr Johnson’s announcement – where he said Britain should look towards the end of transition with great confidence’ – that remains on the horizon.
Portsmouth City Council owns the port. Its leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the authority could ill-afford the £25m new port infrastructure costs on top of the £12m deficit brought on by a drop in income from Covid-19.
He told The News: ‘If we don’t get (the money) we will have to think very seriously – we’ve got a £12m deficit this year because of Covid at the council.
‘I’m scraping the bottom of every barrel I can find to find the money to plug that gap.’
Hinting at possible cuts in council services, he added: ‘We will have to think very carefully about what we can afford.’
The Lib Dem leader added the situation was caused by ‘government decision’ and government ‘needs to make sure they’re funding stuff’ caused by those choices.
Government is inviting bids to a £200m Port Infrastructure Fund offering one-off grants. The cash could be used for ‘warehouses and control posts to traffic management systems,’ the government said. Bids are due by October 30.
New infrastructure including extra Border Force facilities and port health checks are needed at Portsmouth’s port, along with gate automation, and IT integration with new HMRC systems.
This is on top of the staffing costs of the lorry triage system, called Operation Transmission and organised by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum.
Measures to avoid lorry tailbacks included a series of checkpoints, with one at the £600,000 Tipner West site, and a 230-lorry capacity stack on the A31 to check paperwork. There would be overflow space for 200 on the A303 if needed.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘Our port is in good shape.
‘A great deal of thought has gone into how things will work and what the opportunities are for us.
‘Timescales are challenging but everyone is pulling out all the stops. This could mean more business for the port and it will create more jobs too.
The resilience forum said: ‘Subject to the plans being appropriately funded, arrangements to mitigate congestion will start immediately at the point we leave the EU.
‘The planning phase to enable those arrangements to be in place has already begun, involving all relevant agencies and coordinated by the Local Resilience Forum.’
Government minister Michael Gove visited the port on Thursday. Media were not invited.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
Thank you for reading this story. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on our advertisers and thus our revenues.
Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism and campaign on your behalf for our city.