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Logistics UK lambasts government Brexit unreadiness

[ November 11, 2020   //   ]

Logistics UK policy director Elizabeth de Jong addressed the House of Commons Select Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union on 11 November, calling on the government to provide the clarity and systems its members require to prepare for the end of Brexit transition on 31 December. Without these, she warned, the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain will break, with the potential for disruptions including lorry queues in Dover and supply issues for Northern Ireland.

De Jong added that the industry had been pressing government for clarity on business and government readiness for the UK’s departure but not enough has been forthcoming. For example, there are significant delays in delivery of the Haulier Handbook, which is intended to give clear, vital guidance to drivers of all relevant nationalities and hence minimise the length of queues at ports.  The launch date for this has been put back to 18 November for a semi-complete version, and 7 December for a complete version – less than four weeks before the UK leaves the EU.  This product must then be translated and circulated to thousands of hauliers across Europe so they can read and understand it, and prepare for 1 January 2021.

She added: “Of particular concern are operational barriers and the lack of clarity over trading arrangements between GB and NI. The Customs Declaration Service is untested and construction of Border Inspection Posts for SPS checks has not yet started and will take up to six months to complete.”

New Trusted Trader schemes such as a Retail Movement System are required to allow safe, secure businesses to have streamlined border processes for GB to NI trade, she continued. Simplified processes are vital if businesses and consumers are to be protected. The sector needs comprehensive written guidance on how trade between GB and NI will operate so that importers, exporters and logistics businesses can prepare.

With 50 days left to the end of the Transition Period, the industry’s concerns have also been raised in a letter to Michael Gove MP, in which Logistics UK highlighted these issues and urged action from government, as Ms de Jong explains:

“With the economy still reeling from handling the impact of COVID-19, the last thing UK PLC needs is another major shock of our own making,” she continues.  “The logistics industry is committed to making Brexit work for the good of the nation but at this late stage, we need government’s help now to ensure our industry can continue to support UK business, prevent lorry queues at Dover and empty shelves in NI and make a success of the UK’s departure from the Single Market.”

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