POOLE’S port could lose nearly a third of its lorry movements to France under a worst case scenario being considered by Brittany Ferries.

The company says it is “almost impossible” to make post-Brexit plans – and that even the Department for Transport is seeking clarification.

Brittany Ferries – which runs the Barfleur between Poole and Cherbourg – says the issue is a “significant threat” to jobs and investment.

This evening, Leave supporters including former Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns are due at an event titled the Save Brexit Rally in Bournemouth.

Brittany Ferries says it has been told that every vehicle carrying refrigerated goods, food and other natural products could face inspections in France after Britain leaves the European Union.

But Cherbourg is among the ports that do not have the infrastructure for the task and is unlikely to get it by the end of March 2019. Brittany’s head of communications, Nigel Wonnacott, said: “If we crash out, the French are going to put in place very rigorous inspections which don’t take place at the moment.

“If Cherbourg is not a port that’s able to carry out the inspections that are required, then that may mean it’s not a point of entry for hauliers who currently use that route for refrigerated goods and other natural products.”

That could mean refrigerated lorries – which make up at least 30 per cent of freight out of Poole – going to Portsmouth instead.

Christophe Mathieu, chief executive of Brittany Ferries, said: “In a worst case scenario, British hauliers carrying refrigerated goods could face the prospect of far longer journeys – perhaps hundreds of additional miles – to find a French port equipped to process their consignment.

“When they finally get there they could encounter further delays waiting for checks to take place.

“The reality of this would be a loss of connectivity and a significant threat to jobs and long term investment in regions like the south west of England.”

But Poole MP Sir Robert Syms, a supporter of Brexit, said: “Thirty per cent of our agricultural product is exported but we import much more from France. If they’re more difficult with us, then we’ll be more difficult for them.”

He said there would be no grounds for more inspections.

“We’ve legislated that our standards will be the same from the day after Brexit. The question is whether or not there’s a degree of awkwardness from the people at Cherbourg on behalf of the French government and that’s probably why it’s good to have a deal,” he said.

He said there had to be goodwill on both sides, even if Britain left without a deal and had to rely on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

“If we were on WTO rules, which means there would be a degree of tariffs, there would be extra paperwork but I don’t think Poole-Cherbourg would be uniquely affected,” he added.

He said he would be willing to ask the government about the issue when parliament resumes sitting.

n The £5-a-ticket Save Brexit Rally, organised by the group Leave Means Leave, is at the BIC today, at 7pm.