The knock-on effect would be ’crippling’, chief executive Richard Burnett said on behalf of his 7,000 members.
“The Dover Strait handles 10,000 lorries each day and processing them through the port is currently seamless.
“The stark reality is that if customs controls are put in place, it will take an average of about 45 minutes to process one truck on both sides of the channel.
“If that happens then the queues of HGVs in Kent will make the jams seen in the summer of 2015 appear as little more than waiting for the traffic lights to change.”
He also warned that European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits will be needed for British trucks once the UK becomes a non-EU country.
These are issued by the European Conference of Minsters of Transport and are likely to be limited by quota to 5 per cent of the number of licences currently issued.
Mr Burnett added: “If that scenario becomes reality, most UK operators will unable to go and get the goods themselves. Without special arrangements EU operators will also need to use ECMT permits to come here.”