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'Brexit Britain on the road to nowhere', says FTA

June 7, 2018 10:00 PM
By Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at KCC
Originally published by Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

The Government's latest proposal for a backstop 'Temporary Customs Arrangement' post Brexit does nothing to help maintain the continued frictionless movement of freight through Kent and the Channel Ports after Brexit. Rob Bird

The proposal is focussed almost entirely on the desire to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This is understandably a red line in the Brexit negotiations; even so, the proposal may be rejected by EU negotiators in Brussels.

But what about the 10,000 lorries that pass through Dover and the Channel Tunnel each day?

Earlier this week, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that its confidence in Government's ability to deliver a 'frictionless' Brexit that will 'Keep Britain Trading' with the EU was fast collapsing. The FTA is the UK's leading logistics trade body representing over 17,000 UK businesses.

Back in April, Baroness Jenny Randerson, the Lib Dem Transport spokesperson, and I met with David Wells, the Chief Executive, and James Hookham, the Deputy Chief Executive and Brexit spokesperson, at the FTA's offices in Tunbridge Wells.

They explained their efforts to get the Government to understand the logistics of moving 'just in time' freight between the EU and Britain. They have set out eight priority issues that need to be resolved to keep Britain trading post Brexit.

Yet, with just three weeks to go to the next critical round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels, not one of these eight critical issues has been progressed. No wonder the FTA fear that Brexit Britain is on the road to nowhere.

The FTA are not mincing their words: "… with less than ten months to go until the country is set to leave the EU, we have nothing agreed and there is every prospect of another flunked summit at the end of this month. Kicking the can down the road to October may be easy for politicians but … another four months of planning time will have been lost. Our members want to make things work, but our hands are tied. With "Armageddon" scenarios apparently being developed by Whitehall to cope with a No Deal Brexit next March even the Government seems to think it may be all over!"

It's time for Kent's political leaders to tell Government Ministers to stop playing politics and to get to grips with the urgent and critical issues facing Kent. Better still, Kent's MPs should tell their Westminster colleagues that it is absolutely vital that the UK remains in the EU Customs Union and Single Market.

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To read the FTA press release in full, click here.

To see the FTA's Eight Priorities to Keep Britain Trading, click here.

To visit the FTA Brexit centre, click here.