FTA, the organisation which represents the UK’s logistics sector, has rejected ministerial claims that a “Managed No Deal” Brexit is possible when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. As James Hookham, FTA’s Deputy CEO explains, the concept is more to do with semantics than actual actions, and would leave the UK’s logistics industry carrying the can for political failure to negotiate an effective withdrawal agreement:
“A ‘managed no deal’ outcome is an idea contrived by politician to shift the consequences of a No Deal departure from the EU onto the very people whose lives depend on the smooth movement of goods and services to keep Britain trading. This concept is a deflection of responsibility by the politicians responsible for the country’s future success onto the businesses which will be most affected by their failures.
“No Deal is not an option for logistics businesses, which have been lobbying government for two years for detailed information and support to ensure that the nation can continue to trade efficiently after Brexit. Logistics businesses need and deserve workable solutions to ensure they can keep the nation’s supply chain intact and working effectively, and will not take the blame for failures of government negotiation and planning which could lead the country to the cliff edge of a No Deal departure from the EU.”
As Mr Hookham continues, some of the language now being used seems to suggest that the government could accept a No Deal outcome to negotiations and that this would somehow be agreeable to those charged with keeping the UK’s supply chain moving. With the Commons vote now scheduled for mid-January, FTA is urging politicians across the house to bear in mind the needs of business to prevent future problems for key sectors across the UK economy:
“Solutions are still required for customs and border arrangements, the continuity of trade agreements and vehicle permits, access to EU workers and other key areas which keep the UK’s supply chain working efficiently to support British business, industry and commerce. It is simply unacceptable that politicians seem happy to set up the logistics sector as scapegoat for future problems across the nation’s economy, which could be solved if government continued to talk to its EU counterparts to find workable answers to keep trade moving.”
“No deal would be disastrous for UK-EU logistics, and the wider economy as a whole. Playing with words, by creating a new type of No Deal concept, ignores the very real issues which such a departure from the EU would create. The UK’s supply chain is the blood in the veins of the UK’s economy, keeping schools, hospitals and businesses stocked, shop shelves full and retailers provided with the goods they need to prosper. Negotiators on both sides need to keep working to ensure that Britain and the EU keep trading smoothly, without descending to wordplay and semantics to cloud the very real issues which industry still faces in making Brexit a success.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.