Britain’s Freight Transport Association (FTA), representing more than 17,000 businesses nationwide, as well as logistics organisations, including shippers and hauliers, have signed an open letter to UK Prime Minister, Theresa May concerning what they say is the cost of a No Deal departure from the European Union.

The UK Parliament is due to vote on whether or not it wants to adopt a no-deal position today (13 March) after MPs yet again rejected the Prime Minister’s option to unblock the current Brexit impasse, but the FTA has now waded into the debate.

“For the past two years, the logistics industry has been warning of the potential disruption and damage of a No Deal Brexit,” said FTA deputy chief executive, James Hookham.

“[This] Could include short-term gridlock at ferry ports if customs processes and checks are not implemented smoothly, shortages of perishable foods and medicines, restrictions in the labour market caused by a shortage of workers as they return to the EU and severe delays for imports and exports which would hinder the UK’s manufacturing and retail sectors.

“The Government believes it has developed the necessary procedures to be followed, but yet there is still so much to be agreed and announced. The logistics industry needs sufficient time to learn, adapt to and implement the necessary operational processes to comply with the announced procedures. 

“With just over two weeks to go until the UK’s proposed departure from the EU, it is worrying we still have so much to clarify.”

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The letter lays out the priorities which, Hookham explains, the logistics industry has been lobbying government for clarity about since Article 50 was triggered in 2017.

“The logistics industry is agile and adaptable and will respond to challenges, but it is impossible for those involved in complex supply chains to adapt to new trading conditions in a matter of days,” noted Hookham. “The sector still needs confirmation of many aspects, including whether road haulage permits will be required, the level of Customs tariffs, access to a skilled workforce and how red tape will be minimised for imports and exports. 

“Slipping to a No Deal situation, and reverting to complicated WTO rules and tariffs, would impose additional costs of between 5% and 35% per cent on the UK’s supply chain.

“Mrs May needs to urge Parliament to recognise the real jeopardy a No Deal Brexit, as outlined in today’s letter, would impose on the logistics industry and the country as a whole.  Business cannot trade on ‘what if’s?’ and ‘maybe’s’ – a transition period to whatever the new market arrangements will be is essential if Britain is to keep trading efficiently after its departure from the European Union.”

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.