Six months ago Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP said: “We will maintain a free-flowing border at Dover, we will not impose checks at the port, it is utterly unrealistic to do so. We don’t check lorries now, we’re not going to be checking lorries in the future. I’m clear that it cannot happen.”
But the Road Haulage Association doesn’t share Mr Grayling’s optimism. “It’s not just the day-to-day items such as fresh foods from mainland Europe that will be affected, the high value industries such as entertainment and motor sports will also take a massive financial hit and thousands of jobs will be at risk”, said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.
“Currently, the big name American bands fly their equipment across the Atlantic to the many UK-based stage mover operators. They then embark upon their European (and further) tours by road. Rail is simply not an option. Of course, the tours are time-sensitive and if deadlines cannot be met it can result in cancelled venues – ruining tours and reputations. And the financial losses will be enormous.”
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, hauliers crossing the Channel to mainland Europe will have to use permits. Currently the UK has less than 1,200 of these and if no more are available then other, less cost-effective ways of accessing Europe will have to be found. But it’s not just the headlining American bands that will face this dilemma, how will our own British acts get into Europe?
With only eight months to go until we leave the EU, the protracted negotiations and lack of decision is putting the industries that contribute billions to the economy on both sides of the Channel at severe risk.