MAJOR disruption at British ports is a "real prospect" in the event of a no-deal Brexit, MPs say today, as they suggest talks between the Department of Transport and Scottish ports have not yet started with just four months to go to Brexit Day.

The influential Commons Public Accounts Committee said there was a "real risk" the Department would not be ready for a no-deal scenario with time now running out to fix it.

Labour’s Meg Hillier, who chairs the cross-party group of MPs, said the risks were "severe" but plans to avoid disruption around major ports were “worryingly under-developed".

The committee’s report refers to consultations between UK authorities and various ports such as Dover and Plymouth. It adds: “In the devolved administrations, the Department told us that discussions are at an early stage with the Welsh Government on ports such as Holyhead and have not yet started with Scottish ones."

MPs accused officials at the Department of having a "complacent" approach to preparations and of failing to communicate properly with businesses so they could get ready for such an outcome.

"There is a real risk that it will not be ready in the event of the UK departing the EU without a negotiated deal and this risk is increasing as time runs out to deliver what is needed," said the report.

Criticising plans for projects such as Project Brock, the 13-mile "lorry park" planned for the M20, to ease problems at ports on the South Coast, it added: "The slow progress and poor communication around work to avoid this through schemes such as Project Brock concerns us.

"The lack of detailed information provided to businesses to help them prepare and the secrecy surrounding discussions through the use of non-disclosure agreements is hampering businesses' ability to plan.

"With only months to go, it is extremely worrying that we are seeing these same concerns again and again with little progress being made.

"Even if a deal is agreed, the Department faces a challenging workload during the proposed transition period.

"We acknowledge the difficult situation for the Department in having to prepare for all Brexit scenarios.

"But it must be open about the challenges it faces and work with businesses and stakeholders to help them get ready for whatever the future brings," added the report.

An SNP spokesman last night said: “As this report makes clear, a no-deal outcome would be catastrophic for Scotland and the rest of the UK but there is no Commons majority for it and it must be avoided at all costs.

“However, for as long as the risk of no-deal remains, the UK Government needs to up its game and make sure it shares all necessary information with the devolved administrations.”

Ms Hillier claimed the secrecy around the Department's preparations and the shortcomings in assurance on its progress was a “potentially toxic combination”.

"We accept the continued uncertainty over the final shape of Brexit adds to the complexity of the challenge but the Department's Brexit work is simply too important to get wrong,” declared the London MP.

The report said the Department had "little, if any, contingency left to cope with slippage among the 28 internal projects it has under way".

It also warned there was a danger the required legislation to cope with no-deal would not be passed by the time the UK left the EU at the end of March. It noted how, at the time the committee took evidence in late October, the Department was aiming to pass 66 Statutory Instruments, that give ministers the ability to implement legislation, but had only done so with 19.