When the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, a haulage industry leader has warned that there is an 80% chance of “chaos in Kent.”
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said, that chaos could pursue as there are concerns over the UK’s preparations for export of goods from 1 January 2021.
The UK’s lack of preparedness includes customs staff and the development of the new IT border system is not yet finished.
Speaking to the Commons Future Relationship with the European Union Committee, Burnett warned, “The devil is in the detail, and some of the fundamental things that need to change and some of the things that need to be invested in are simply not happening fast enough.”
He added, “In terms of my gut feeling as we stand here today with 81 days to go, with the amount of work that we’ve got to undertake, [the likelihood of] chaos in Kent [is] 80/20.
“Because if businesses try to dispatch because they haven’t got customs agents to do the paperwork, then the chances are they’re going to still want to trade, they’re still going to want to drive volume there.
“If we’re not ready then the likelihood is, we will have chaos.”
Government Ministers were accused by Bennett of having a “self-belief in their own rhetoric at the moment that everything will be OK.
“My fear at this stage is there will be significant disruption, potentially, at the year-end.”
He told the Committee that recruiting enough customs agents to deal with the increase in declarations required is “a long way off,” come 31 December when the transition period finally comes to an end.
The RHA boss said, “It can take six to 12 months just to familiarise yourself, but probably three years to really understand how the process works end to end.
“We’ve got 81 working days between now and the end of the year, to be able to recruit the number of agents that are required.
“The intelligence that’s coming back from the industry is that there is a denial, there’s an apathy, there’s a real sense that the Government is not getting the message.”