Business, Freight News, Logistics

Gove dismisses Brexit ‘scaremongering’ – updated

[ August 19, 2019   //   ]

The government has dismissed a leaked warning on the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal as a worst-case scenario and an attempt to foment anti-Brexit feeling.

It followed the Sunday Times publication of a civil service paper on 18 August that suggested that customs checks at Channel ports would lead to serious delays and shortages of food, fuel and vital medicines.

It also suggested that it would lead to a hard border being imposed between Northern and Southern Ireland, which in turn could spark civil unrest.

The Freight Transport Association said that the reports of fuel shortages were particularly worrying and could put many jobs at risk.

worrying and could put many jobs at risk.

Deputy chief executive James Hookham said that the association was concerned that none of the planned scenarios leaked had been shared with the logistics industry in meetings over the past three years. He added: “We are ready and waiting to adopt and adapt to new trading practices but without knowing the scenarios the government believes industry should prepare for, logistics operators cannot be expected to take adequate steps to get ready for a No Deal Brexit.

“This is the first time the industry is learning of any threat to fuel supplies – a particularly worrying situation as this would affect the movement of goods across the country, not just to and from Europe, and could put jobs at risk throughout the sector which keeps Britain trading.”

FTA said that the time has come for government to put the politics of Brexit to one and share its full impact assessment for a No Deal departure from the EU. Hookham said: “Following the revelations in the media, it is disheartening to discover that the government has been concealing the facts which business needs in order to keep Britain trading effectively.

The government however described the reports as “scaremongering” and an attempt to influence forthcoming discussions between the UK and EU leaders.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who is in charge of planning for Brexit said that the paper was Times was an attempt to describe a worst-case situation and that the government had taken steps to ensure that the events described did not happen.

Adam Johnson, director of Leeds-based Tudor International Freightsaid that the reports suggested that the most likely ‘aftershocks’ of a no-deal Brexit would include a three-month ‘meltdown’ at British ports as up to 85% of UK lorries ‘may not be ready’ for customs checks.

“Although the dossier predicts traffic flow would improve to 50 to 70 per cent of the current rate after that, it admits disruption would last many months. In a reasonable worst-case scenario, the report also says, heavy goods vehicles could face delays of up to two-and-a-half days before crossing the border.”

Mr Johnson said the document also outlined likely disruption in the provision of certain types of goods, such as medicines and medical supplies. It also stated important parts of the food supply chain, including fresh produce, ingredients, chemicals and packaging, may become scarcer, reducing choice and increasing prices for consumers.

He said: “The dossier’s predictions about areas where impacts had been widely forecast are alarming enough. But it also prophesies some important results which are new to the logistics industry, despite there being little more than two months to go until they could become reality and the sector’s representative bodies having held regular conversations with the government about Brexit during the last three years.

Johnson added: “Mr Gove has also said the report is based on worst-case scenarios, which may not occur. But it’s noteworthy that he’s produced no specific new estimates to supersede those the leaked document contains.”