The FTA told MPs that it was “surprised” it had not been alerted to government research that found a no-deal Brexit would result not only in severe delays at Calais but also fuel shortages affecting hauliers across the UK.

The research, which was part of the Government’s Yellowhammer report, only came to light when the report was leaked last month.

The dossier warned that Government plans to slash import tariffs to zero under a no-deal may "inadvertently" lead to the closure of two British oil refineries, as they would bear "significant financial losses".

Giving evidence to the Exiting the EU Select Committee last week, FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham told MPs: “Our assessment of the Yellowhammer report was that it offered a more severe scenario than even we were predicting based on our understanding of the checks and arrangements that would be in place.

Asked if the FTA was surprised that the government had not shared the details of the report with FTA, Hookham replied: “I was surprised that perhaps they had not thought to share some of the consequences that they had anticipated with (FTA) simply because the biggest surprise in the report for us was a supposed threat to domestic fuel supplies. Clearly that affects all transport operators in the UK, not just those that travel between the UK and the rest of the EU.”

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Karen Wheeler, who resigned as director general for border coordination at HMRC in June, also gave evidence to the committee.

Wheeler, who had worked on Yellow Hammer, said the government had estimated the “flow rate” of trucks exporting goods to the EU via Calais could drop to 40-60% in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

She added that this represented the “reasonable worst case scenario” – an outcome that is unlikely but “stands a significant chance of happening”.

In the reasonable best-case scenario, she said the flow rate could be as high as 70-80% of current levels.

However she warned that “even in those circumstances, which seem just as unlikely as a reasonable worst case, you would still get delays".

Wheeler added that the government had estimated, as of June, that as many as 20% of the 10,000 trucks a day that go through the Port of Dover may not have the right documents to pass customs checks that will be introduced in France after a no-deal Brexit.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium told the committee that a no-deal Brexit in October would be the “very worst time” for such an outcome.

He said: “Everybody is gearing up for Christmas at that time, so everybody’s logistics are already at full stretch. Warehousing space is at an absolute premium at that time.”