The government has invited ports across England to bid for part of a £10m pot of cash aimed at delivering upgrades to enhance capacity.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said English ports have only until 6 September to bid in the Port Infrastructure Resilience and Connectivity (PIRC) competition.
Shapps also said the government was allocating £5m to four Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) in towns or cities with key freight ports to help them build infrastructure improvements to minimise any potential traffic disruption at the border.
LRFs are made up of emergency responders, councils and other public services.
A further £15m will be spent on longer-term projects to boost road and rail links to ports.
Shapps said: “As the UK continues to develop as an outward-facing global trading nation ready for a post-Brexit world, the resilience of our trading hubs is more critical than ever before.”
The funding comes from the government’s previously announced £2.1bn fund to enhance readiness for leaving the EU.
Bidders in the PIRC competition can be awarded up to £1m each to deliver infrastructure improvements such as providing more HGV parking and container storage space or developing traffic systems to ensure the free flow of cars and lorries.
The spending on LRFs is aimed at delivering infrastructure improvements to manage road traffic around maritime ports with important trade routes with the EU.
Meanwhile a delegation of workers from some of the UK’s biggest manufacturers have met Michael Gove – the minister in charge of government planning for no deal – to warn the government that a no-deal Brexit could be catastrophic for British industry.
The delegation was led by Jack Dromey MP, Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, and Jude Brimble, GMB national secretary.
They claimed to represent workers at firms including Airbus, AstraZeneca, British Steel, Burton’s Biscuits, Jaguar Land Rover, Nestlé, Rolls-Royce, Scottish Whisky Industry, Toyota, Vauxhall and Wedgewood.
Turner said: “Overnight industries such as steel could see the floodgates open to the dumping of cheap inferior steel from overseas in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“Meanwhile the just-in-time supply chains which are central to the success of our carmakers and aerospace companies could come shuddering to a halt, risking the competitiveness of UK manufacturing and the jobs it sustains.”
Separately, former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has backed a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson from the GMB union, campaign group Hope Not Hate and food charity Sustain warning that a no-deal Brexit would threaten food supplies and asking for details of preparations to deal with the risks.
Brown said: “A no-deal Brexit threatens the UK’s food supply chain. Imports of almost a third of our food could be subject to disruption.
“Uncertainty, restricted supplies and a weakened pound could raise prices. This would be a catastrophe for the food industry but also for family budgets, hospitals and those driven to food banks due to the decimation of our social security system over the last decade.”
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