Home Affairs Select Committee findings support FTA position on Brexit

Friday 17 November 2017

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on Brexit has reinforced the calls by the Freight Transport Association for information on future trading arrangements in a report published this week.  According to the Committee, the government should be prioritising trade in the negotiations, and providing freight and logistics operators with the information they need on future customs and trading arrangements to ensure that Britain can keep trading effectively.

“The Select Committee’s report reinforces what FTA has been saying for months, that freight and logistics operators need clarity on future customs arrangements in order to plan efficiently for a post-Brexit world”, says Chris Yarsley, Policy Manager at FTA.  “Commerce and customs are complicated areas of business which cannot be co-ordinated overnight.  FTA has been pushing the government since the triggering of Article 50 to give freight and logistics operators the information they need in order to make the necessary changes that will keep Britain trading.  To leave everything to the last minute could bring the nation’s businesses to a standstill.”

The report has also called on government to make the significant investment in the processes and personnel that will be needed at the UK’s borders from the day of the country’s departure from the EU, echoing the warnings which FTA has issued.  “The new trading arrangements with Europe and beyond will need careful planning, with a fully trained, fully staffed workforce which can handle the millions of additional declarations that will be required at the border.  FTA is heartened that the Select Committee has recognised this need, and is urging the government to take this recommendation on board as a priority, to ensure that trade does not grind to a halt on Brexit day.

“In addition to the government, freight operators will also need sufficient advance warning to ensure that staff can be fully trained to manage the new customs requirements, to avoid being penalised by fines or delayed at the border as paperwork is sorted out.”

Potential problems with the cancellation of the planning application for a new lorry park at Stanford West were also highlighted by the report’s findings, which warned of potential traffic problems caused by lorry delays.  Yarsley continues: “The report warns that ‘if the government gets this all wrong, we could be facing Operation Stack on steroids.’  Our members are very concerned about a lack of adequate, safe and secure parking for drivers awaiting movement through the ports, as well as the impact on the road network and residents in Kent.  The Committee obviously feels the same way, and we would urge government to reconsider its decision on Stanford West as a matter of urgency, to prevent gridlock across the road network.

“FTA and its members are committed to making Brexit work for business, but in order to do so will require the support of government to ensure adequate planning time is allowed for the processes involved in trade.  Keeping Britain trading is our priority, and we have been reassured that the Committee has heard our concerns: we look forward to working with government to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.”


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