Following receipt of a letter from Michael Gove MP, detailing the British Government’s “reasonable worst-case scenario” planning, the UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) remains extremely sceptical about Government’s readiness for the end of the Brexit transition period.
It says that between 30-50% of trucks crossing the English Channel won’t be ready for the new regulations coming into force on 1 January 2021, while a “lack of capacity to hold unready trucks at French ports” could reduce the flow of traffic across the Dover Strait to 60-80% of normal levels.
“We already know this,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “It’s what we’ve been saying for many months. We know that traders and haulage operators will face new customs controls and processes and we know that if they haven’t completed the right paperwork their goods will be stopped when entering the European Union.”
It was gratifying to hear Mr. Gove’s opposite number, Rachel Reeves say: “I met with the Road Haulage Association last week and they are tearing their hair out”. Right now, the only very small light at the end of this transition period tunnel is that today’s debate in the Commons has made it very clear that many of Mr. Gove’s colleagues on both sides of the House are equally concerned.
Continuing, Mr Burnett said: “Mr. Gove stresses that it’s essential that traders act now to get ready for new the formalities. We know for a fact that they are only too keen to be ready but how on earth can they prepare when there is still no clarity as to what they need to do? Traders need 50,000 more customs intermediaries to handle the mountain of new paperwork after transition but Government support to recruit and train those extra people is woefully inadequate, particularly as firms are trying to recover from COVID-19.
“For years we’ve been warning Government that there will be delays at ports but with 70 working days to go until the end of the transition period they’re still not engaging with us to come up with the solutions.
“The answers to the questions that we raised in our letter to Mr. Gove and subsequent roundtable meeting last Thursday still remain unanswered; and for the industry on which the entire nation depends for maintaining the flow of goods across borders, the future looks very bleak indeed.
“We described last week’s meeting between industry stakeholders and Mr. Gove’s team as a total washout. Government’s promises that the UK will be ready for business on 1 January are just a whitewash, and right now it appears that traders and haulage operators are being left to carry the can.”