London-Queues of up to 7,000 heavy-goods vehicles could develop in southeast England from January if Britain leaves the European Union without a Brexit trading deal, the government forecast Wednesday.

Outlining a “reasonable worst-case scenario”, senior minister Michael Gove said the government remained committed to a deal with the EU but urged businesses to prepare.

Based on current estimates on companies’ preparedness, the government said it was likely that only 30 to 60 percent of trucks laden with goods would arrive at Dover and other ports in southeast England with the right paperwork to cross to France.

Gove told parliament this could lead to queues of “up to 7,000 HGVs in Kent” from January 1, holding up goods for two days. 

“These queues and associated disruption and delay would of course subside as unready businesses who had their goods turned back at the French border would not want to repeat the experience,” he said. “But it is clearly far better that everyone is aware now of what is needed to prepare rather than to face additional disruption next year.” Britain left the EU in January but remains bound by the bloc’s rules under a transition period that expires on December 31. 

Beyond that, there is no certainty of a new trading arrangement with the two sides locked in difficult negotiations.