M20 closed as no-deal Brexit barriers removed

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London-bound traffic, right, was restricted to two lanes with a 50mph speed limit

A motorway will be closed at night for more than two weeks to remove barriers installed in case of a no-deal Brexit.

The M20 in Kent was closed at 20:00 GMT between junctions seven and nine and will reopen at 06:00 on Tuesday.

The same stretch of the London-bound carriageway only will be closed overnight for 15 nights from Tuesday, with diversions in place.

The work will return the M20 to its normal state for the first time since Operation Brock was introduced.

Under Operation Brock, one carriageway was to be reserved for HGVs heading to Dover, with all other traffic restricted to a contraflow system on the opposite side.

It was intended to deal with tailbacks caused by any customs delays experienced by hauliers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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Operation Brock would have seen one side of the M20 used only by HGVs heading to cross-Channel ports

Highways England said work had been “carefully planned to limit any disruption,” with about 1,500 metres of barrier removed each night.

Ashford MP Damian Green said he was “delighted” the “wretched barriers” were being removed.

Operation Brock, installed in March, was stood down when Brexit was delayed last year, leaving coast-bound traffic free to use all three lanes as normal.

However, metal barriers were left in place, leaving London-bound traffic restricted to two narrow lanes with a 50mph speed limit.

“It’s been a miserable place to be driving for the past nine months or so and so everyone will welcome it going away,” Mr Green said.

He said it would be “ludicrous” to leave it in place until the government had agreed a deal with EU leaders.

Mr Green said the reinstallation of the barriers was “always there as an option” should Brexit, or another cause, “impede cross Channel traffic to the extent we have to bring Brock back”.

Highways England project director Nicky Potts said:  “Removing the Operation Brock barrier is good news for drivers and the people of Kent and reflects the decreased risk of disruption to cross-channel services in the coming months.”