‘Demented pantomime’: UK govt stage ‘fake traffic jam’ to test no-deal Brexit event, Twitter erupts
In the first significant test for border disruption, the UK Department for Transport’s (DfT) experiment, named ‘Operation Brock’, saw nearly 100 lorries from the disused Manston Airport, in Kent, on a 20-mile journey to Dover – Europe’s busiest roll-on roll-off ferry port – at around 8am, the Evening Standard reports.
The rehearsal has led to journalists and pundits pouring scorn on the exercise. The Independent’s sketch writer, Tom Peck, updated his Twitter followers with a rather comical running commentary on the “fake traffic jam” operation.
Peck claimed that he’d been sent to cover a variety of unusual stories for the paper, but he’d “never been on an assignment anywhere near as stupid as this.” He described the experiment as a “demented pantomime.”
In ten years at the Indy, I've been taught literally how to ride a bike by an Olympic cycling coach. I've entered my dog in Crufts. I've trained as a Wimbledon ball boy. I've never been on an assignment anywhere near as stupid as this. pic.twitter.com/TEHOAxn87x— Tom Peck (@tompeck) January 7, 2019
The clock strikes 8. The moment this demented pantomime was meant to set off for Dover, to stress test British greatness. It is still stationary.— Tom Peck (@tompeck) January 7, 2019
And if you're wondering how the great British public, and their "blitz spirit" will cope with all this, a woman in a Fiat 500 has just slowed down on her way past the lay by where I and other members of the media have gathered, to honk loudly and mouth at us to "fucking fuck off"— Tom Peck (@tompeck) January 7, 2019
British actor Ralph Little, remarked that despite Peck’s humorous reporting on the issue, the subject matter was “insane.” While one lorry driver taking part in the government’s no-deal Brexit operation appeared very relaxed with it all, tweeting from his cabin that he had his “feet up drinking coffee.”
I mean, this is funny because it’s written well. But the subject matter is... insane. A fake traffic jam to demonstrate to the EU that we can handle traffic jams. That’ll show ‘em. https://t.co/Pj5aTochuU— Ralf Little (@RalfLittle) January 7, 2019
An organised traffic jam is so Brexit.— Ian Dunt (@IanDunt) January 7, 2019
Lorries queue in fake traffic jam. pic.twitter.com/1YCFB6iuMN— Cosy & Monty (@CosyFFS) January 7, 2019
Pro-EU Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran told Sky News: “The idea that creating a fake traffic jam will show the EU we are ready for no deal is just plain stupid.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s government wants to establish whether the abandoned airport can be utilized as a mass holding area for HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicle) to ease congestion and traffic queues for lorries making their way to Dover to transport goods to Calais in France and beyond.
It comes as the UK parliament debates May’s deal on Wednesday, before the meaningful vote scheduled for Tuesday, January 15. The PM is struggling to garner enough support for her deal from Tory MPs. If she fails to get her EU withdrawal agreement through the House of Commons, the chances of a no-deal Brexit could become ever more possible.
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