RHA astonished by ex-Brexit secretary’s claims

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Claims by ex-Brexit secretary David Davis that there won’t be border delays at Dover–Calais even if there’s a no-deal Brexit have left the Road Haulage Association “astonished”.

The RHA is calling for a transition period of at least 18 months – deal or no-deal – to ensure the continuation of the current frictionless borders and the efficient operation of the UK supply chain.

However, in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Davis said that claims of “food shortages were nonsense”. When asked about delays at the French border he added: “The port authority says that’s not going to happen. There have been a lot of scare stories.”

The RHA argues that Davis showed “an extraordinary lack of understanding of the issue”.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The French authorities have never suggested a border go-slow and assurances to that effect by both President Macron and local authority leaders in Calais to Theresa May miss the key point.

“There will be delays at borders as a result of new customs checks – there are neither the staff nor the systems in place to make it a smooth process.

“Any customs border check will rapidly create very long queues and massive disruption to the supply chain.

“We simply can’t see how the customs process will work. Considering our constant dialogue with government on behalf of the UK haulage industry, we’re at a total loss to understand these latest comments.”

  • The current Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, has created a stir by admitting that he had not realised the “full extent” of the UK’s reliance on Dover-Calais trade, in widely quoted remarks at a conference on Wednesday. The Freight Transport Association expressed relief that “the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU has finally recognised the importance of the Dover strait and frictionless trade for the UK economy”.  Head of European policy Pauline Bastidon said: “The Government now needs to make good on its pledge of frictionless trade, something the UK No Deal notices make plain would not be provided under a No Deal outcome. The logistics industry urgently needs the tools to keep Britain trading successfully after Brexit.”
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