In Zeebrugge, which does 45% of its trade with the UK, there is growing concern about the impact of the worst-case scenario – no deal, and the resumption of WTO tariffs

Gridlock at the border, vast motorway car parks and jobs lost: British ports have been vocal about the risks of a hard Brexit. In case Conservative MPs missed the message, the Port of Dover advertised at the party conference, warning that an extra two minutes on lorry inspections could lead to queues of 17 miles at Dover and similar “chaos in Calais and Dunkerque”.

Across the North Sea, continental ports are worried about the great unknowns of Brexit. One of the most exposed is the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, which does 45% of its trade with the UK. “We are vulnerable if something happens to the trade from the UK to the continent,” said port chief executive Joachim Coens. “So what I mainly hope is that we could continue having a good trade relationship with the UK… as we have been doing for centuries.”

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