AGENDA WEST: Brexit border controls creating delays, increased costs and economic problems for the logistics industry (including liquidations) plus chaos for Northern Ireland

Brexit border controls creating delays, increased costs and economic problems for the logistics industry (including liquidations) plus chaos for Northern Ireland

Whether you are a Leaver or a Remainer there is no getting away from the problem that is the Brexit Trade Deal. Hailed as a breakthrough in the UK’s post EU economic independence it has been a disaster negotiated by politicians who have no idea of how businesses run.

It’s led to the near collapse of the fishing industry, major problems for agriculture and manufacturing and a nightmare for hauliers and exporters alike. Delays, lost orders, ridiculous paperwork, unhelpful border officials and long queues outside Dover. And it has squeezed profit margins and even led to some firms going into administration or collapsing completely.

 Diamond Logistics told Carol Millet of the trade website Motor Transport that their trade had been severely hit by the trade deal. She reported on Natalie Wainwright, the Diamond Logistics group operations director, who said: “Brexit continues to be an enormous deterrent of trade to the UK thanks to problems at custom control. Our international trade is down 70%. This was primarily shipments from the European Union. Small businesses – like the many e-commerce retailers we are partner to – are being hit particularly hard.”

The increased customs checks are taking the average time taken to clear a truck through border control to 15 minutes – which has caused the long tailbacks on the approach roads to the port. Seemingly in denial of the problem the Government insist the queues are caused by an increase in freight transport to the Continent which flies in the face of their statistics which has seen fall in trade – down nearly 20% since the referendum and a sharp fall since the trade agreement came into force.

In Northern Ireland the trade agreement has not only had a hit on trade as the province is as far as business is concerned still in the EU with the border being the Irish Sea. Trade with the Irish Republic has not surprisingly increase but the barrier with the rest of the UK has seen tensions amongst the Unionist Community rise leading to the Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots announcing the suspension of the deal. That decision has been overturned by a judge, but the problems continue to mount up including sectarian activity.

The biggest losers are hauliers who are used to travelling backwards and forwards with few delays from England, Scotland and Wales to Northern Ireland or across the channel to the Continent. It is not yet possible to see how many firms have gone bust as a result yet – in comparison to pre 2019 – but there have been several casualties. They include recently Amica Distribution Limited, BD Transport (Norfolk), Mebenco Transports UK Limited, A&L Logistics Services Limited, Golden Fleet Logistics Limited, H & H Distribution (UK) Limited, Medley Davies Transport Limited, Raza Logistics Limited, Rossiter Haulage and Zago Logistics Limited.

Spare a thought for the drivers of the trucks waiting to board the ferries – some of the queues have been more than six miles this side of the Channel – but in France up to 20 miles.

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For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk