A former customs officer at the English port of Dover has said that Remainer predictions of huge delays in cross-Channel shipping in a no deal Brexit have been massively exaggerated.
Robert, who used to run the Customs terminal at Dover, Kent, said of claims that there would be food shortages if the UK leaves the EU’s Customs Union on October 31st: “I think you’re going to have to go out of your way to be delayed. A consignment from Europe has a document which is then lodged at the port.”
He continued to tell Iain Dale on LBC on Tuesday: “It will then arrive in Dover in transit, exactly like it is today. Your first import declaration in a no-deal Brexit environment is due at the end of six months. You’ve got six months to do the import entry… That is the no-deal plan. In a no deal plan, the only thing that’s going to happen differently from [that day] — in terms of food going from the EU to the UK — is the EU exporter needs to raise an export declaration. That’s the end of Brexit no-deal planning.”
Robert went on to say that if there are any delays it would likely be on the export side — bearing in mind that the UK actually has a imbalance in trade with the EU, with some 30 per cent of the lorries from Dover to Calais currently travelling empty — but said that “the government have literally today released a project which I’ve been working on for quite a few months, which is 150 pop-up stations and truck parks across the UK — and Europe — where drivers can call in and have their paperwork checked so that they can approach the border, ‘border ready’ so they can proceed on their journey.”
“These will be all over the UK, so don’t come into Kent unless you are border-ready, is the message,” he said.
The Customs specialist added that if there were problems, it would affect the Continent more than the UK, saying: “There will be a shortage of cheddar in Carrefore, but there won’t be a shortage of brie in Tesco.”
Last month, Calais’s port boss also dismissed alarmist claims that there were be long delays in France in a no deal Brexit, saying they were “bullshit”.
“There are certain individuals in the UK who are whipping up this catastrophism for their own reasons. This has provoked a lot of concern but basically ‘c’est la bullshit’,” Jean-Marc Puissesseau said in August, adding that his port has been ready for no deal Brexit since January and that British authorities were also ready.
“Nothing is going to happen the day after Brexit,” Mr Puissesseau said, continuing: “Britain will be a third country, that’s all, and there is no reason why this should lead to any problems. If both sides do their homework traffic will be completely fluid.”
France has prepared by employing more staff and building more checking lanes, the port chief explaining earlier in the year that more than 90 per cent of hauliers coming from the UK will use the ‘green’ lane with nothing to declare and no controls.
In January, President of the Calais region Xavier Bertrand added that his region was doing everything it could to prepare for the continuation of the smooth flow of goods, “because cross-Channel trade matters for the whole of Europe”, recognising how important a clear trade route with the UK is for European jobs and commerce.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit on October 31st, with or without a deal, and has ramped up clean Brexit preparations. However, his efforts may be thwarted by a Parliament of Remainers who have passed a law stopping a no deal and forcing Johnson to ask an extension to January 31st, 2020, if a deal is not agreed by Parliament in October.
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