WHITEHALL is to use up to 150 lorries in a major stress-test of its plans for UK border disruption in the event of Britain crashing out of the EU without a Brexit deal.

The Department for Transport confirmed that a "live test" would take place on Monday and would examine the proposal to use Manston airfield near Ramsgate as a mass "HGV holding facility" to alleviate congestion on the roads to the Channel ports.

It is expected that Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, will on Monday face an Urgent Question in the Commons on preparations for a no-deal as the March 29 Brexit Day draws ever nearer.

In a leaked letter to hauliers, the Department and Kent County Council officials said they would run tests during the morning rush hour at 8am and again at 11am to "establish the safest optimum release rate of HGVs" from the airfield to Dover along the A256.

Officials explained how 100 to 150 hauliers from the local area would be paid to take part in the test of Operation Brock.

A departmental spokeswoman said: "We do not want or expect a no-deal scenario and continue to work hard to deliver a deal with the EU.

"However, it is the duty of a responsible Government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no deal.

"We will be testing part of Operation Brock to ensure that, if it needs to be implemented, the system is fully functional."

Congestion at the Channel ports caused by the reintroduction of customs checks on goods has been one of the most commonly cited negative impacts of a no-deal withdrawal from the EU at the end of March.

Duncan Buchanan of the Road Haulage Association, which has helped to organise the trial, said: "These sort of practical, pragmatic tests need to be done; it just shouldn't be done as late as this. It should have taken place nine months ago."

Labour’s Jo Stevens on behalf of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign said: “The Government knows its Brexit deal isn't going to succeed but the truth is that no deal isn’t either. This Government has a real choice to make for our country and we don't have to flirt with a cliff-edge Brexit.”

She added: “The public have been locked out of the Brexit process since the 2016 vote; it’s time to bring them back in to decide their own future.”

The port of Ramsgate is currently being dredged to turn the harbour into a “second Dover”. More than £100 million has been paid to three ferry companies, including Seaborne Freight, which has come under fire after it emerged that it had never run a crossing and did not own any of its own vessels.