The level of secrecy surrounding no-deal Brexit preparations being made by the Department for Transport (DfT), coupled with a lack of information about the progress being made, is a potentially toxic combination.

That is the view of MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the House of Commons.

Commenting on the Committee’s latest assessment of the DfT’s implementation of Brexit, Ms Hillier stressed that the future of road, rail, maritime and air access to Europe after Brexit remains unclear and that the Department has a critical role in ensuring the UK is prepared.

“With so little time remaining, there is still much to do,” she said. “The risks associated with no-deal are severe, yet plans for avoiding disruption around major ports in particular are worryingly under-developed.”

The PAC has learned that, although the Department plans to spend up to £35 million this year to manage traffic and lorry-queuing at Dover (an initiative known as Project Brock), it has not yet carried out desk-based testing of the system and has largely failed to engage with businesses.

In particular, a lack of detailed information provided to businesses and the use of non-disclosure agreements are hampering their ability to plan for Brexit, the report warns.

While acknowledging that the DfT is in a difficult situation in having to prepare for all Brexit scenarios, the Committee argues that the Department must be open about the challenges it faces and work with businesses and interested parties to help them get ready for whatever the future brings.

Even if a deal is agreed, the Department faces a challenging workload during the proposed transition period and faces an uphill task to pass the necessary legislation in time.

The full report is available here.

Last reviewed 6 December 2018