Labour has blasted the government’s “carnival of incompetence” on Brexit after Michael Gove confirmed many lorry drivers would face a de facto border to enter Kent from January.

The Cabinet Office minister confirmed truck drivers will need a “Kent access permit” to go on designated roads leading to the port of Dover and Eurotunnel in a bid to prevent huge traffic jams.

Government documents suggest the police or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will be able to fine drivers heading to those destinations without one.

It came after Gove published a reasonable worst case scenario which warned there could be queues of 7,000 lorries in the county if not enough businesses prepare for border checks and requirements following the end of the transition period on December 31.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said: “It is incredible that ministers are only now admitting to their plans to arrest British truckers for entering Kent without new travel passports.

“With just over three months to go, how are businesses meant to prepare amid this Conservative carnival of incompetence?” 

The plans were mooted in a government document published in August and confirmed by Gove in the Commons on Wednesday.

He said: “We want to make sure that people use a relatively simple process in order to get what will become known as a ‘Kent-access permit’, which means that they can then proceed smoothly through Kent.”

Hauliers using designated roads in Kent leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel will need digitally-issued access permits, with drivers receiving either a “green” or “amber” certification from the government’s “smart freight” service.

Green would certify that the haulier has all the necessary documents needed to cross the border and can proceed to the port.

Amber would mean the haulier first has to go to an HMRC departure office or a “third party authorised consignor” to complete customs checks and obtain a special customs barcode.

Each permit will be valid for 24 hours to cover a single trip.

Receiving a red result would mean drivers are missing some or all their documentation and should not go to the port.

Any hauliers still travelling to the port with a red notification, or if they have not used the smart freight service at all, would face a fine from police or the DVSA.

Lorries travelling to destinations in Kent will not need any permits.

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