Brexit will cause ‘significant disruption’ for 6-12 months, road haulage chief warns

6 December 2020, 12:07 | Updated: 6 December 2020, 12:19

By Joe Cook

The CEO of the Road Haulage Association has told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday there is likely to be “significant disruption” for six to 12 months due to Brexit.

Richard Burnett told Tom Swarbrick he is “not scaremongering” and “we will come through this”, but warned “when you flick a switch and you change an operation or you change a business process, it has consequences”.

“We haven’t had to do customs declarations or paperwork for 37 years. We have seen a tripling of trade over that period of time,” he explained.

“Yes, a no deal will have an effect on the balance of trade. We don’t know what that is going to look like until we get into it, but these are significant issues.”

Mr Burnett said Environment Secretary George Eustice, who is also minister for food and rural affairs, was “failing to understand” the impact on food manufacturers.

“We have been dealing with European haulers who are saying that those food manufacturers are talking about cutting food orders by 50 percent in January,” Mr Burnett told LBC.

“They don’t want to have to write that product off because it is going to be stuck in queues.

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“There isn’t as much confidence from an EU perspective, in terms of our ability - in the event of a deal or without a deal - to be able to trade in the way in which they are trading at the moment. That is a significant issue as well.”

Responding to suggestions he was scaremongering, the road haulage chief said: “As a trade association we have to be very balanced, we have both remainers and brexiteers in terms of our membership.

“What we have to do is we have to spell out the practical operational implications of what is likely to happen, because of these controls coming back into play.”

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The comments come as Mr Eustice told Swarbrick on Sunday the “transition period will not be extended”, with the UK set to leave the EU in just 25 days.

The environment secretary conceded food prices will go up by "around 1.8 percent" if there is a no-deal Brexit.

The UK and EU are returning to the negotiating table today in a "final throw of the dice" as they try to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed that a "further effort" should be made to come to an agreement on the level playing field, governance and fisheries.

Ahead of the meeting however, British sources warned there was no guarantee they would succeed.

"This is the final throw of the dice," said one UK source close to the negotiations.