British Prime Minister May: No Second Brexit Referendum

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"It demonstrates the utter nonsense that is Brexit, and proves why there must be a people's vote so that we can ask the public if they really want to go ahead with this catastrophic move".

Laureen Evans, who lives opposite the airfield where she runs the Manston Riding Centre, said the test did not have an impact but she anxious an influx of lorries could cause queues on the roads around the airport. "Why not use Manston Airport for planes instead of lorries?"

Mr Harrington, a minister in the business department, told Newsnight he was confident that Britain would leave the European Union with a deal as the stark reality facing the United Kingdom became clear.

The tests began Monday morning and are meant to gauge how severe the disruption would be if Britain leaves the European Union on March 29 without an agreed upon withdrawal deal.

Mr Elphicke added that sending lorry drivers to Manston Airfield would be too hard to explain to foreign lorry drivers.

Richard Burnett said: "Of course it's good to have a plan in place but today's limited scope trial will need to be repeated to stress-test other aspects of the management of thousands of lorries properly".

Britain's divorce deal with Brussels is the only deal on the table and can not be renegotiated, an EU Commission spokesperson said Monday.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, of the anti-Brexit Best For Britain campaign, said it was a "taxpayer-funded farce" while shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said it was "beyond parody".

"Today's trial can not possibly duplicate the reality of 4,000 trucks being held at Manston airport in the event of a no-deal Brexit", the RHA's chief executive Richard Burnett said in a statement.

But it drew criticism for only involving 89 trucks and haulage companies dismissed it as "too little too late".

The criticism comes just days after questions were raised over a £13.8million no-deal Brexit contract awarded by DfT to a ferry company which has not yet run services and faced accusations it copied part of its terms and conditions from a takeaway firm. "At this late stage it looks like window dressing".

It comes as the United Kingdom parliament debates May's deal on Wednesday, before the meaningful vote scheduled for Tuesday, January 15.

Facing defeat in parliament last month, May postponed a vote on her deal and pledged to seek further political and legal assurances from the EU.

Labor says it would renegotiate the deal, and is angling for new elections.

She needs hardline Brexiteers to worry that if they don't vote with her, Brexit won't happen at all, and some ardent Remainers to think that unless they support her, Britain will "crash out" of the European Union without a deal.

"It's still hard to see any upside to Brexit", said Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT auto industry association, which said new vehicle sales in 2018 fell at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago.

With Brexit looming on March 29, opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of "running down the clock in an attempt to blackmail" parliament into supporting her withdrawal deal. She also promised parliament would have a greater say in the rest of the Brexit process and warned that rejecting her deal could prevent Britain's exit.

RNZ's United Kingdom correspondent Olly Barratt said not much had changed during the MPs' Christmas break.