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‘Liar Johnson’: PM facing backlash after drastically underplaying scale of lorries stranded on motorway

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
About 1,500 lorries were stuck on the M20 in Kent on Tuesday morning. Boris Johnson incorrectly said on Monday evening that the number had fallen to 170. (Andrew Matthews/PA)
About 1,500 lorries were stuck on the M20 in Kent on Tuesday morning. Boris Johnson incorrectly said on Monday evening that the number had fallen to 170. (PA)
  • PM facing another backlash – this time over M20 lorries claim

  • Boris Johnson said number stranded in Kent was 170 on Monday evening... it was later confirmed to be 900

  • Number grew to 1,500 by Tuesday morning as France border closure continues

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

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.

Watch: Hundreds of lorries backed up as border remains closed

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. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 2,800 lorries were being held up.

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.

“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…

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

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.

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Watch: Truck driver criticises government over handling of border closure