Logistics UK is calling on the UK government to provide the clarity and systems its members require to prepare for Brexit, so trade can keep flowing across the UK’s borders after 31 December, 2020.

Without these, the organisation warns, the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain will break, with the potential for disruptions including lorry queues in Dover and supply issues for Northern Ireland (NI).

“We have been pressing government for clarity on business and government readiness for the UK’s departure from the EU from 1 January, 2021, but not enough has been forthcoming,” said Logistics UK policy director, Elizabeth de Jong, speaking in front of the House of Commons Select Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union.

“For example, there are significant delays in delivery of the Haulier Handbook, which is intended to give clear, vital guidance to drivers of all relevant nationalities and hence minimise the length of queues at ports. The launch date for this has been put back to 18 November for a semi-complete version and 7 December for a complete version – less than four weeks before the UK leaves the EU.

“This product must then be translated and circulated to thousands of hauliers across Europe so they can read and understand it and prepare for 1 January, 2021.

“Of particular concern are operational barriers and the lack of clarity over trading arrangements between GB and NI. The Customs Declaration Service is untested and construction of Border Inspection Posts for SPS checks has not yet started and will take up to six months to complete.

“New Trusted Trader schemes such as a Retail Movement System are required to allow safe, secure businesses to have streamlined border processes for GB to NI trade. Simplified  processes are vital if  NI’s businesses and consumers are to be protected. NI is dependent on the reliable supply of goods from GB across a host of industries, including food and medicines. 

“Our sector needs comprehensive written guidance on how trade between GB and NI will operate so importers, exporters and logistics businesses can prepare.”

With 50 days left to the end of the Transition Period, the industry’s concerns have also been raised in a letter to Michael Gove MP, in which Logistics UK highlighted the issues and urged action from government.

“With the economy still reeling from handling the impact of COVID-19, the last thing UK PLC needs is another major shock of our own making,” added de Jong. “The logistics industry is committed to making Brexit work for the good of the nation but at this late stage, we need government’s help now to ensure our industry can continue to support UK business, prevent lorry queues at Dover and empty shelves in NI and make a success of the UK’s departure from the Single Market.”

Logistics UK (formerly FTA) is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading and more than 7m people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.