Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Road Haulage and Freight Transport Groups Ask New Prime Minister for Clarity Over Brexit

Logistics Industry Dubious That Politicians Comprehend No Deal Consequences
Shipping News Feature
UK – As the Conservative Party leadership contest reached its conclusion with Boris Johnson beating Jeremy Hunt to be elected as the new Prime Minister, the organisations which represent the logistics industry are lining up to put the case for ensuring continuity of trade with both the road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) keen to bend the new Conservative party leader's ear.

Taking no chances in the run up to the vote declaration, the FTA said that it wrote to both candidates to urge them to consider the impacts a ‘No deal Brexit’ would have on UK-EU supply chains, and to ensure the co-ordination of logistics activities at a high level to minimise and manage these effects in order to keep Britain trading. James Hookham, Deputy Chief Executive for FTA, explains:

“FTA has worked closely with government over the past three years to develop contingency plans for a No Deal Brexit. We remain hugely concerned at the fragility of these plans and the state of readiness of traders, carriers and agencies on both sides of the border to implement them flawlessly as early as 31 October.

“As an apolitical organisation, we do not dispute the decision of the Referendum but we are convinced by our Members that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would be the worst possible outcome for the economy and is to be avoided at all costs. We are however encouraging our members to prepare for all eventualities, but in order to do so, they need urgent action from Government, starting with the extension of easements previously conceded for 29 March, some of which will have expired before 31 October.

”We offered FTA’s support to both candidates in the Tory party leadership election to provide advice and guidance moving into such a crucial period for the future success of the British economy. Many pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ remain incomplete if traders and hauliers are to continue to operate effectively after 31 October, but government preparations seem to have stalled.

“We need these procedures to be completed and pending questions to be clarified and answered as soon as possible Livelihoods are dependent on cross border trade, both in Ireland and on the mainland, and the clock is ticking if businesses are to adopt and adapt to new trading processes and learn new procedures.

“Most importantly, there needs to be certainty around the what will happen at the Irish land border for the haulage businesses that will be the first to cross it on the first morning of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.”

As part of the approach to both MPs, FTA has offered to brief Johnson, and Hunt, fully on the issues involved and potential areas of concern for its members, and also volunteered to join Hunt’s proposed Logistics Co-ordination Committee. Hookham continued:

“Britain’s supply chain is at the heart of business across the country and is a tightly interdependent operation which supports those trading both domestically and internationally. Focus on Brexit seems to have waned in government during the leadership election, but it is of vital importance that preparations are revived at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The RHA meanwhile echoed the call that the new Prime Minister has a responsibility to ensure that borders between the UK and EU remain free flowing after Brexit. RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said that businesses are frustrated with a lack of clarity from the Government on what’s expected of them and how new systems will work, continuing:

“It’s vital for UK businesses that Johnson ensures that firms can continue to move goods freely across our borders once we leave the EU. We urge the Prime Minister to ensure that his Government puts the right systems in place and gives firms the support they need to continue transporting freight efficiently.”