THE RHA was quick to congratulate Boris Johnson on his emphatic general election win and called on him to work with the freight and logistics industry on a number of key issues of vital importance to member companies.
In his letter, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: ‘Over the past three years we have highlighted the risks and impacts of whatever Brexit approach is taken. Enough time to implement and transition to any new arrangements for customs, lorry access regulations and labour is essential to maintain the UK’s supply chains.’
Similarly, the FTA welcomed the new clarity and direction that the election result provided to business in terms of Brexit planning. However, FTA is warning that, without the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, there is still the risk of a No Deal departure from the EU on 31 January 2020, which could bring chaos to the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain, and the industry which relies upon it.
Assuming Prime Minister Boris Johnson follows through on his commitment that he will ‘get Brexit done’ and achieves ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by Parliament, Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s head of global and European policy, is keen that the focus for government should then shift to details of the future trading arrangements between the UK and EU:
‘What logistics and supply chain managers need above all is clarity over the Brexit’s end game. While the short term priority is to ensure that the UK leaves with a ratified withdrawal agreement, we need answers to the big questions about our future trading arrangements with Europe. Most of the crucial topics related to trade and transport have yet to be negotiated with the EU, in what will be a short amount of time. Entering these negotiations with a clear picture of what logistics needs will be critical to its success. Minimising frictions, red tape and costs should be at the heart of the negotiations if UK PLC is to continue trading effectively,’ she says.
Still concerning logistics businesses is the ongoing situation regarding the employment of EU nationals within a sector that relies on them for vital labour. With more than 53,000 lorry driver vacancies already in the UK, and more in warehousing, van driving and other key roles across the sector, the loss of the 343,000 EU nationals working in British logistics firms could see vehicle movements and the supply chain as a whole come to a standstill, warned the FTA.