The Fury at Gove headline is from todays Observer online which reflects on the report from the Road Haulage Association. The report measured the level of exports from British ports to the EU as being 68% lower in January 2021 than in January 2020. They have alerted this information to Michael Gove and according to the article the RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett “told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.” The Brexit: delayed shipments headed message came a couple of weeks ago to the industry I am part of from one of our International suppliers who like most other companies have for many years been treating the EU as an effective and easy way to supply products to all 28 nations. Although there is no indication that any of them are about to change this, in large part due to the cost of setting up a separate UK supply source, the timeframe for getting products to the UK has suddenly created a challenge. Their e-letter starts with
Dear valued customer,
You may have read in the media or have experienced it firsthand, the transport flow to the United Kingdom is stagnating. Shipments are delayed due to backlog at custom clearance, hence please consider additional transit time when submitting your purchase order….
These Crestron products, just like the ones from Bose, Sennheiser, Shure and many other Audio Visual products won’t get damaged for a delay, but the delay will irritate and frustrate the clients as much as the installation companies. The reality is that many of the UK based companies no longer make their products in the UK and so they will be facing the same challenge as Crestron, although so far it is only Crestron that has referred to import blockages. However on Thursday there was a session in the House of Commons under the regular title of Business of the House and the starting point comes from Valerie Vaz who is the Labour Shadow Leader of the House of Commons who begins the debate with Jacob Rees-Mogg and one of her questions was on this same subject and it was
The Leader of the House will know that the Road Haulage Association has said that 40% to 50% of trucks are going back to the EU empty. The Federation of Small Businesses has called for transition payments. They are saying the problems have not emerged because of stockpiling, but the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is now having weekly meetings of the Brexit taskforce. How about a weekly update to the House? Our businesses in our constituencies are part of the supply chain, and they want to know what is going on.
One might hope that there would be a response to this, however the only reference to this from Rees-Mogg was
As regards various Select Committees, there are Select Committees that can look into all the matters relating to our departure from the European Union.
So perhaps in due course when we have all learned a great deal from our experiences which may improve or get much worse, then of course the Government and Parliament will be able to reflect on it and share concerns or satisfaction with the nation! According to the Observer article that Richard Burnett the RHA Chief Executive made comments to Michael Gove last year.
In particular he had made clear throughout last year there was an urgent need to increase the number of customs agents to help firms with mountains of extra paperwork. The number now, around 10,000, is still about a fifth of what the RHA says is required to handle the massive increase in paperwork facing exporters…..Contact with Gove had been limited and had achieved little over recent months. “Michael Gove is the master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back,” he said. “He responds on WhatsApp and says he got the letter but no written response comes. Pretty much every time we have written over the last six months he has not responded in writing. He tends to get officials to start working on things. But the responses are a complete waste of time because they don’t listen to what the issues were that we raised in the first place.”
Clearly the RHA is a critical agency when it comes to this subject but if the House of Commons is also being denied a response from Michael Gove then it would appear as if we simply have to wait around until the evidence is so clear that we will all know and by then perhaps we can ask for a different approach? Of course we may have a very empty economy by that point.