Major motorway is secretly shut down overnight so it can be turned into a post-Brexit lorry park

Ministers last night snuck out plans to shut down the M26 in Kent so builders can work on the road.

It will be redeveloped to enable it to hold lorries on part or all of the road if a No Deal Brexit leads to huge queues at the port of Dover.

MPs responded with fury to the news which was slipped out without any explanation.

The M26, which connects the M25 around London to the M20 running towards Dover, was closed at 10pm last night and reopened at 5.30am.

The closures will continue until Monday – and will then restart in the run-up to Christmas.

It will be shut down every night from November 19 to December 21 as building work continues.

Ministers are worried that if we leave the EU without an agreement, there will be gridlock around Dover as lorry drivers face reams of new red tape.

They have developed contingency plans to park goods vehicles along the side of the M20 – as well as taking over the M26.

A spokesman for Highways England said: “As part of wider resilience planning, Highways England has been asked by the Department for Transport to develop plans to utilise the M26 to hold heavy goods vehicles, should further capacity be required in the future.

“We will be undertaking site surveys on the M26 during October leading to the installation of two gates in the central reservation to support the safe management of freight in the future, if needed.”

Local MP Tom Tugendhat blasted transport chiefs for failing to provide advance notice of the works.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "I was assured the works were not planned and only yesterday was it confirmed to me that Highways England had said that is exactly what was planned, despite having told me the reverse a week earlier."

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling responded by claiming the M26 wouldn't be needed as a lorry park if Britain successfully strikes a deal with the EU.

He said: "I do not expect any of the contingencies that we have in place for a No Deal Brexit to be needed because I'm confident we will reach a sensible agreement."

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