Brexit: Transport ministers host meeting with business leaders from haulage and

Brexit: Transport ministers host meeting with business leaders from haulage and logistics sector

Transport ministers and leaders from the freight sector gathered in Downing Street yesterday to discuss the benefits of the Government’s EU Exit Withdrawal Agreement.

Ministers, including the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP and Jesse Norman MP, also provided an update on no-deal Brexit preparations.  

The main topic of discussion centred on the benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement including the implementation period which ministers said would give businesses sufficient time to prepare for a new relationship and allow the UK time to negotiate a mutually beneficial road freight agreement with the EU. 

Leaders were told it is the Government and EU’s intention to ensure comparable market access for freight and passenger road transport operators as part of a longer-term agreement.

Ministers also outlined a broad range of measures around the extensive preparations the DfT is taking to manage any impact on the haulage and logistics sector in the event of a no-deal with the EU.

One of the attendees, Richard Burnett (pictured), RHA’s Chief Executive, said without a transitional period the industry responsible for moving the UK economy will stagger towards “a cliff-edge disaster”.

He added: “The current withdrawal agreement is a solution for the UK’s all-important haulage industry which will keep the supply chain moving. A rejection of the withdrawal agreement, without an alternative transitional period, means that the industry responsible for moving the UK economy, will stagger towards a cliff-edge disaster.”

The RHA said while the withdrawal agreement leaves many issues unresolved and is subject to negotiations on a long-term trade deal with the EU, the extra time the implementation period gives is vital for new processes and systems to be put in place across the supply chain.

Mr Burnett said that transition gives a chance for efficient new border technology, and systems across industry, to be put into place to avoid disastrous queues at ports and a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic: “A deal will avoid reliance on an acute shortage of permits and measures for customs that are unworkable and impractical."

With the haulage industry struggling to fill driver and other vacancies and many current EU workers choosing to leave, Burnett called on ministers to make changes to immigration rules after Brexit: 

“We continue to argue with Government for future immigration rules that do not exclude lorry drivers from the definition of skilled workers – so the bar is not set too high and excludes these vital, skilled and trained workers from jobs in the UK. It is essential that lower-paid skilled workers are still allowed to fill vacancies where there is a need for qualified staff in the UK.”

"The RHA has never taken a political view on Brexit, but the RHA’s Board of Directors feel parliamentary approval for a deal that includes a transition period is essential to avoid crippling the supply chain. The RHA believes any outcome delivered by Parliament that fails to deliver this is irresponsible.”

A full list of attendees is below:

  • Road Haulage Association
  • Freight Transport Association
  • Kuehne + Nagel
  • Wincanton
  • Simarco International
  • PC Howard Group
  • McCulla Ireland
  • Malcolm Group
  • The Institute of Grocery Distribution
  • The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
  • Food Storage and Distribution Federation
  • British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association
  • Amazon
  • Eddie Stobart
  • UPS
  • St Vincent Holdings