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Ireland – Europe, substitute path must be found to avoid possible Truck queues

In order to avoid long queues at British ports, hauliers and exporters asked to find an alternative route to Europe.

According to a leaked British government letter if requirements are not met EU will face possible truck queues up to 7,000 vehicles long at the ports.

Michael Gove have warned that the UK imports and exports could be affected adversely up to three months. The Cabinet Office document states that, in its reasonable worst-case scenario, between 30-50% of trucks crossing the Channel will not be ready for the new regulations coming into force on 1 January 2021.

A “lack of capacity to hold unready trucks at French ports” could also reduce the flow of traffic across the strait to 60-80% of normal levels. Such delays could be in place for at least three months, hauliers have been warned, as alternative routes are sought and supply chains get to grips with the new systems and requirements.

The President of the Irish Road Haulage Association said this would result in a huge loss to the Ireland and the Irish exchequer. Eugene Drennan said a direct, fast and efficient daily service is needed from Ireland into Northern France.

Simon McKeever from the Irish Exporters Association agrees that alternative routes are needed saying whether there is a trade deal or not the delays at the British ports are inevitable.

He said if there is a deal at a minimum there will be customs paperwork and more troublesome checks if there isn’t a deal.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he remains determined to reach a deal with Britain when asked whether such an agreement was possible before the end of a status-quo transition period.

He refused to comment on the British government’s Internal Market Bill, which ministers have said could break international law. Mr Gove is due to outline the scenario work, which the Cabinet Office stressed is not a forecast, to MPs in the House of Commons today.

In his letter, Mr Gove have warned that the traders will face new customs controls and processes and their goods will be stopped if they don’t have right paperwork. He asks the traders to get ready for new formalities.

But sector chiefs have accused the Government’s inefficiency to do enough in recent weeks over the threat of post-Brexit border delays.

Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, was seething last week after being told the government’s Smart Freight system – designed to reduce the risk of cargo delays once Britain is outside of EU rules – would still be in testing mode in January when British exports face new border regulations.

Responding to the worst-case scenario document, UK Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We’ve been consistently warning the government that there will be delays at ports but they’re just not engaging with industry on coming up with solutions.

“Traders need 50,000 more customs intermediaries to handle the mountain of new paperwork after transition but Government support to recruit and train those extra people is woefully inadequate.”

An academic think tank in the UK has warned that failure to reach an agreement with the EU in post-Brexit trade talks could hit Britain’s economy three times harder in the long term than coronavirus.

The ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ group says shortages of fresh food and medicine, queues at ports and borders, and more “hassle” travelling to the continent, are also possible.

A report by the organisation, based on modelling with the London School of Economics (LSE), says the impacts of coronavirus may mitigate or obscure the immediate impact of a no-deal exit.

But it warns that not reaching an agreement with Brussels would have a significant impact in the long term. The report warns a no-deal Brexit risks disruption to parts of the UK economy that have been resilient to Covid-19, not least food supply chains.

The transition period, which kept the UK aligned to the EU’s single market and customs union rules to allow trade to flow smoothly after Brexit, expires at the end of the year unless both sides agree to an extension – something Boris Johnson has ruled out.

Trade deal talks between the two sides are continuing, but the British Prime Minister has set a deadline of 15 October for an agreement to be reached.

Professor Anand Menon, director of ‘UK in a Changing Europe’, said: “While the Prime Minister said no deal is a ‘good outcome’ our report shows that it may lead to significant disruption and will have a significant negative economic impact.

“As significant will be the political fallout of no deal, particularly with the UK and EU, but also inside the UK, particularly Northern Ireland, and internationally too.”

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