Friday, September 13, 2019

UK Treasury Yellowhammer Brexit Document Badly Received by Freight and Logistics Lobby

No Deal Doomsday Scenario Predicts Channel Ports Blocked for Up to Three Months
Shipping News Feature

UK – The leaking of the government 'Yellowhammer' document which predicts cross Channel trade to be restricted initially to between 40-60% of current levels from Day 1 after leaving in the event of a no deal, has been understandably rather badly received by some of the UK's freight and logistics lobby. Operation Yellowhammer is the UK Treasury code name for departing the EU in such circumstances.

Yellowhammer is to say the very least controversial. It says baldly that certain fresh foods will be in short supply, not serious enough to cause overall food shortage, but limiting choice and availability. Medicines are particularly vulnerable as 75% come via the short straits routes. It also predicts the possibility of clashes between fishing fleets as EU vessels attempt to enter what will become UK only waters, and Channel ports blocked for months by French authorities.

Particularly worrying is the prediction of potential fuel distribution disruption, mainly in London and the South-East, also affected by ‘customer behaviour’ i.e. stockpiling. There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions, according to the document. Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive, Richard Burnett says that the worst case planning assumptions come as no surprise and calls on the Government to do everything to prepare business for the UK’s exit, saying:

“This is what we’ve been talking about for the last three years; we’ve been consistently warning that no deal will mean disruption at the border and across the supply chain as firms get to grips with unfamiliar processes. An increase in energy from the Government has been welcome but it needs to throw all its weight into minimising the impact leaving the EU without a deal will have on the economy.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) believes that whilst many of the details may seem trivial they are actually crucial to the successful protection and continuation of the UK's supply chain, and industry needs key decisions to be made urgently to keep imports and exports moving efficiently. It comments that, despite being involved with the government in Brexit talks for three years, no talk of fuel shortages has ever been mentioned before.

Earlier this week Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA) set out its concerns over the development of HMRCs new Customs processes and stressed the need for greater industry input to ensure the systems will function appropriately.

With Yellowhammer, allegedly one of three plans looking at different potential outcomes, stating that the relationship between the UK and EU is ‘unsympathetic’ and saying that individual member states are under pressure from Brussels to not engage in discussions, it looks as though this sorry mess is far from over yet.