PM facing backlash after underplaying scale of lorries stranded

Boris Johnson is facing yet another backlash after incorrectly saying only 170 lorries were stranded on the M20 in Kent.

The prime minister made the claim at his Downing Street press conference on Monday evening. Highways England later clarified the true number of lorries at 6pm that night was more than four times higher: 900.

Furious opposition MPs branded Johnson a “liar” and accused him of “spewing propaganda”.

It comes as France’s border closure with the UK continued on Tuesday, banning hauliers from crossing the English Channel.

It’s in response to a mutant variant of coronavirus spreading across Britain. It is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain.

By Tuesday morning, after some drivers had spent a second night sleeping in their cabs, the queue had grown to 1,500 lorries.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said of the PM’s incorrect claim: “It is clear that Boris Johnson either hadn’t bothered to find out what the situation was in Kent before [Monday’s] press conference or was trying to cover it up.

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“Either way, this is desperate stuff from the PM at a time of crisis. He needs to come clean about the situation and get a grip.”

SNP MP Ronnie Cowan posted on Twitter on Tuesday…

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…and Labour MP Maria Eagle branded him “liar Johnson”.

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On Tuesday, crisis talks with France were continuing in an effort to resume trade flows across the Channel, amid warnings that the border must be running again by Wednesday to avoid disruption to food supplies.

Home secretary Priti Patel said the government is “speaking constantly” with France to achieve a resolution “in both our interests” to get freight moving again.