Green MEP Keith Taylor has extended an open invitation to Dominic Raab to join him on a visit to Dover after the UK Brexit Secretary admitted to 'not understanding the extent to which Britain is reliant on the Dover-Calais trade route'.
The senior Green politician last visited the port town in the summer to hear residents', hauliers' and the industry's concerns about Brexit's effects on the town, trade and the port's operation.
Mr Taylor reached out to Dominic Raab on Twitter but has yet to receive a reply.
In the summer, Mr Taylor met with ort of Dover officials on the state of customs preparations for Brexit.
In a candid exchange, the senior Green politician and Richard Christian, Port of Dover's Head of Policy and Communications, discussed the customs proposals set out in the Government's new white paper and the risks posed by a no deal Brexit.
The Port is politically neutral, but has, since the EU referendum in 2016, made no secret of its fears about the Government's decision to leave the Customs Union without setting out a workable alternative. The Port even took the step of advertising its concerns to Ministers directly at the Conservative Party conference last year.
After the meeting, Mr Taylor MEP hosted a meeting with campaigners from the cross-party EU Thinking: Deal + Dover group at the historic Cinque Port Arms in Dover's Western Docks.
The group, whose steering committee includes the former Mayor of Dover, Chris Precious and Green activist Sarah Gleave, has a mission to 'find out about Britain's changing relationship with the EU while advocating for maintaining the closest possible ties'.
Mr Taylor updated campaigners on his work on Brexit and his particular efforts to try and ensure Dover avoids the 'customs chaos' hauliers and customs officials have warned 'will turn much of Kent into a lorry park post-Brexit'.
During the meeting, the Green Party MEP, who is also a member of the European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee, said:
"The concern over the Brexit customs chaos in Dover is nothing new, I have been talking to organisations like the Port of Dover and haulage firms on a regular basis since the EU referendum. The only thing that has changed in that time is the level of frustration expressed at Ministers' continued refusal to acknowledge the concerns, let alone address them."
"Theresa May might suggest we're on the 'road to Brexit', but the unanswered customs questions in Dover are among the many roadblocks the Government hasn't even attempted to clear."
"Theresa May's white paper, which was billed as a compromise and bid for unity, has only served to unite both sides of the Brexit divide in fierce opposition to its unworkable proposals. Such is the size of the contradictions and the lack of clarity it contains."
"For all the talk of compromise, it remains the case that the Government is planning to eject Britain from the Customs Union. This will inevitably mean there will be a need to create a new customs infrastructure which will see 185,000 businesses having to create an estimated 300 million extra customs documents every year. And that means delays.
"The Port of Dover has already calculated that every two-minutes extra spent dealing with a new customs system will result in a 27km tailback. The latest customs fudge does little to alleviate these issues."
"While Ministers' continue to make policy based not on the evidence but on blind ideology, Dover and much of Kent must prepare, as best it can, for the prospect that it will be turned into a semi-permanent lorry park post-Brexit."
Keith Taylor was also asked to reiterate his support for a People's Vote on the terms of any Brexit deal. He said:
"The EU referendum was supposed to be the start of a democratic process, not the end of democracy. It is only right and democratic that the people have the final say."
After the meeting, campaigner Sarah Gleave said:
"It's important that Keith visited Dover to get an inside view of the chaos that lays ahead if the Government keeps pursuing its unworkable customs plans. As campaigners, working cross-party with E.U. Thinking: Deal + Dover, we're fighting to protect Dover District and its residents from the Kent-long traffic queues, air and noise pollution and general chaos that will arise from the extra customs and other checks that will inevitably be part of a disorderly or hard Brexit."
"A squabbling government seems to be unable to agree on a negotiating position that will avoid new customs checks and keep freight flowing. So, yes, it is time to do the reality checks, and it is time to consider a People's Vote on the final deal, this UK government is running out of time."