All lorries carrying meat, fish and other food perishables could be subject to strict checks at Calais, post- Brexit, the deputy head of the Port of Calais told MPs this week.

The warning was made by Port of Calais deputy chief executive Benoit Rochet whilst giving evidence to the Commons Treasury Committee on the UK’s economic relationship with the EU.

Rochet said that sanitary checks on fresh food, particularly meat and fish, would have to be introduced, which he said could result in severe tailbacks at both Dover and Calais.

He said: “We have very few customs checks right now and no sanitary inspections. If the UK becomes a third party there will have to be controls on goods and French customs have told us – that the most important is the sanitary controls because if there is no deal then there will be very frequent controls involving all those lorries carrying meat and fish – so it is important that we implement a system, if there is no deal.”

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In written evidence to the committee Eurotunnel operator Getlink, told MPs: “Our view is that the introduction of Smart Border technology is essential to ensuring that frictionless trade can be maintained.

“Pre-declaration of goods to be imported or exported, a trigger on arrival at the border and inspections inland or at the point of delivery are the only way that this can be achieved.”

Getlink warned that this may not be possible to achieve before Brexit. “Delivering this level of sophistication will be a complex and lengthy process and it is already too late to envisage it being in place in March 2019,” it said.

It added: “Government needs to step up its delivery significantly in order to ensure that the economy can continue to grow.”

Getlink said 220,000 jobs were supported by UK producers transporting goods through the Channel Tunnel. It warned: “A proportion of these jobs could be put at risk if delays at the border resulted in a reduction in demand for UK exports.”