A SECTION of the M3 outside Basingstoke could be used as a lorry park in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Liberal Democrat leader.

The "worst-case scenario" – which would affect the motorway between Winchester and Basingstoke, according to national reports – was revealed to Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Lib Dems, as he visited Portsmouth International Port to learn of preparations for the UK's departure from the European Union.

The idea, from Hampshire's Local Resilience Forum (LRF) which prepares for emergency scenarios, would allow for 10,000 lorries to be parked on the M3, according to the BBC.

This would be to deal with hold-ups caused by longer custom checks at Portsmouth International Port.

Port director Mike Sellers said attempts to use nearby land as a lorry park and processing area had been thwarted because the MoD refused to release the land, while another site 20 minutes away had been located but did not have the required infrastructure in place.

The port currently handles 500 lorries a day, but this is set to at least double in the case of a no-deal as it is set to relieve some of the burden faced by Dover.

The BBC has reported the LRF - which consists of the emergency services and local authorities - said other traffic would be diverted on to the A30 and the A33.

Sir Vince said: "What I am very concerned about is that the government simply hasn't thought through this no-deal Brexit that they talk about, it is a very amateurish Dad's Army approach.

"The problem here is that Portsmouth will have to take considerably more lorries, they have to get through quickly, there will be customs checks, there is nowhere at the moment to store the lorries, the government is taking no interest in demands that there is additional lorry space, there are plans to close the M3 to use it for storage, extreme solutions of that kind."

A Highways England spokesman said: "We currently have no plans to use any section of the M3 or other parts of the strategic road network to hold lorries should there be disruption at Portsmouth Port, and we would have significant concerns with any suggested plan that proposed it.
"We continue to support Hampshire Resilience Forum which leads on contingency planning across the county on how we can help with any extra traffic the Port are expecting."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The department is not planning to stack lorries on the M3."

Assistant chief constable Dave Hardcastle, on behalf of the LRF, said: “We are still actively seeking holding areas for vehicles, of which Dunsbury Park is the preferred option, and we are looking for engagement from the Department for Transport to make that happen.

“We are still investigating further holding areas. Our least preferred option is stacking lorries on the strategic road network, and we continue to work with Highways England to look for the least disruptive area if that becomes necessary.”

MPs are due to vote on prime minister Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday.