Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association warned that there is an 80 per cent chance of ‘chaos in Kent’ on 1st January because the Government has failed to put in place an adequate post-Brexit customs system. He obviously expects a lot of drivers to be working on New Years Day!
Mr Burnett told MPs that ministers are in ‘denial’ about the prospect of a border meltdown as lorry drivers are forced to adapt to new paperwork. He said ministers and civil servants simply ‘don’t get’ what could happen and they have a misplaced ‘self belief in their own rhetoric at the moment, that everything will be okay’.
1st January is a bank holiday. 2nd January is the date to be worried about!
He continued by saying that the roll out of the new customs system was ‘not happening fast enough’ as he warned there is not enough time to recruit and train all of the customs agents who will be needed to help businesses navigate post-Brexit checks. He said this scenario could happen with a deal or even with a no-deal.
New border arrangements are due to come into force on 1st January after the end of the Brexit transition period. Haulage drivers without the correct paperwork for exporting into the EU risk being stopped from boarding ferries and the industry fears that could result in massive traffic jams on the roads leading to ports in the south east.
PM’s official spokesman says Whitehall departments have been ‘engaging extensively with road hauliers and with other groups to ensure they know the actions they need to take ahead of January 1’. They are still quite happy with taking their chances on the remaining 20% chance of ‘no chaos!’
It seems like Mr Burnett is getting his bets in early – all will be revealed in the New Year. Who will be proved correct?!