Foreign Secretary plays down suggestions port delays caused by Brexit

10 December 2020, 11:08

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Foreign Secretary has played down suggestions bottlenecks at UK ports are Brexit-related and instead blamed Covid.

The comments come after Labour called on ministers to "wake up" and take action to tackle congestion at UK ports.

The party says businesses have been "sounding the alarm for weeks" about difficulties importing goods.

But, Dominic Raab told LBC much of the congestion at terminals is linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

LBC's Nick Ferrari asked the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab if queues at UK ports was a "portent of what we'll see in January".

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Mr Raab played down the claim delays were due to Brexit and suggested Covid was the cause.

"I think the challenge that we're facing with Covid is probably far greater and puts into context some of the challenges that we'll have in relation to leaving the transition period."

This led to Nick Ferrari directly asking if the delays were "Covid-caused, more than they are Brexit."

"I think that's the feedback, and what is being conveyed to us," Mr Raab said.

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He added: "Of course there is some concern, there will be some changes, some froth at the end of the transition period.

"There will be actually, whether we have a deal or not, but we’ll adjust to that. The contingency planning is well in place, but we’re talking to the hauliers, the infrastructure providers and the businesses and that’s also why I think we need some finality come Sunday, so that businesses and those providing that infrastructure can plan as we approach the 1st January."

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, said: "Government must keep in mind the emerging crisis at our ports and the looming implications of Brexit upon our businesses and supply chains."