Apparently it’s been said, by UK Government no less, that a no-deal Brexit will cause six months of disruptions to UK-EU cross-channel freight. Well after this week we are staring down the very reality of a no-deal Brexit scenario.
Logistics experts are now stepping into gear as we all think the unthinkable. I don’t think anyone envisaged a no-deal, but we could, and I don’t think we’re ready.
Theresa May heads back to Brussels to wave her plan in their face but they say this is the deal. There is no other, and it won’t get through Parliament. It’s still a fast moving situation, which is a bit unfortunate really.
The cabinet office state “Government departments have been working to design customs and other control arrangements at the UK border in a way which ensures goods can continue to flow into the country, and won’t be delayed by additional controls and checks. However, the UK government does not have control over the checks which member states impose at the EU border. The European Commission has made it clear that, in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, it will impose full third country controls on people and goods entering the EU from the UK.”
It continued: “Although we cannot know exactly what each member state will do with respect to checks on the EU border, the cross-government planning assumptions have been revised so we can prepare for the potential impacts that the imposition of third country controls by member states could have.
“These impacts are likely to be felt mostly on the short straits crossings into Dover and Folkestone, where the frequent and closed loop nature of these mean that both exports and imports would be affected. The revised cross-government planning assumptions show that there will be significantly reduced access across the shorts straits, for up to six months. This is very much a worst-case scenario.”
For some reason this doesn’t fill me full of confidence as we know if clearance at port is introduced the whole system as it stands now would topple over. Dover is not ready for this.
The briefing added: “In a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU we would, of course, want to work closely with Member States to introduce pragmatic arrangements to ensure the continued full flow of goods which would be to their benefit as well as ours. Nevertheless, as a responsible government, we have a duty to plan for all scenarios.
“Extensive work to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario has been under way for almost two years and we are taking necessary steps to ensure the country continues to operate smoothly from the day we leave. The government will work closely with industry to ensure that cross-border activity continues to be conducted in a way which minimises delays and additional burdens for legitimate trade, while robustly ensuring compliance.”
But it stressed that “the approach of continuity does not mean that everything will stay the same, but the priority is maximising stability at the point of departure through the government’s action”.
What a load of waffle don’t you think. The government may have been extensively planning for two years for a ‘no deal’ but it doesn’t appear they have been working with the very experts within our industry that needed to be involved.
It is a calamitous situation made worse that at the time of writing we have reached an impasse as internal fighting continues and still limboland for everyone else.
Prepare all you like, we have everything ready to clear goods, but the system is not ready and not known, and that is fundamentally the problem for us and our customers.
What a mess! To all our European counterparts, we apologise.
Now we wait (I mean really, wait!) for January 21st where Theresa May will bring whatever she has back to Parliament, in all likelihood, to be rejected.
But who’s to say, it’s simply a matter of watching and waiting, it’s out of our hands.
Hang on, did someone say Peoples vote?