Britain’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) is urging the government to share its full impact assessment for a potential No Deal departure from the European Union (EU).

Last weekend saw a leak to the press of the UK government’s Operation Yellowhammer report into the potential impact of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, which has led the FTA to express serious concern.

“Some of the scenarios leaked in the Operation Yellowhammer report came as a surprise to the industry, despite FTA’s constant conversations with government since Article 50 was triggered: the areas of concern which have never been mentioned yet would have a significant impact on the way the country conducts business,” said FTA deputy chief executive, James Hookham.

“This is not about the politics of Brexit; for the past three years, FTA has been pressing government for clarity on the trading environment we will be working in once the UK leaves the EU, with only limited success.

“The news fuel supplies could be impacted is particularly worrying, considering this would affect the movement of goods both domestically and internationally; as an industry, we remember the impact of the 2000 fuel strike very well and the chaos which it caused, both for business and for individuals.”

New British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has pledged the UK will exit ‘do or die’ by 31 October if no consensus can be found on the Withdrawal Agreement setting Britain’s initial relationship with the European Union, to be followed by a Political Declaration outlining the business environment beyond that.

However, with the British Parliament and its European counterpart currently in summer recess, coupled with the change in the Commission and Council presidencies, time is starting to become of the essence to secure a deal before the end of October.

“FTA is still waiting for answers from government to the most critical questions which directly affect the way the sector operates, now and in the future,” added Hookham. “As an industry, we are resilient and flexible, but can only work with the information we are given. 

“To assume logistics businesses will be able to make sweeping changes to working practices with less than 80 days left before the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU is unrealistic at best and not what we have been led to believe will be needed by government.

“We can plan for the worst and hope for the best, but without knowing what the worst might look like, with less than three months left, it is impossible to make strides towards a resolution which will keep Britain trading effectively come what may after Brexit. 

“We simply do not have the time now to be pawns in a political game – logistics operators are the lifeblood of the British economy and deserve some honesty and trust from government to ensure goods and services can continue to move effectively.”

Yesterday (19 August), UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive, Richard Burnett revealed he had met new British Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, to discuss Brexit and welcomed his “totally different” approach following his replacement of previous incumbent, Chris Grayling.

“This has a totally different feel in terms of the government listening to the haulage and logistics sector and I’m really looking forward to working with the new Secretary of State,” said Burnett.

“It’s good to see he understands the challenges we are facing over Brexit and it’s encouraging he promised greater clarity on the processes traders will have to go through in the event of a no-deal at the end of October.

“The RHA has been critical about the lack of clarity over new customs processes and the complexity of the tasks involved in customs form filling.”