18 July 2017

Business leaders and Government Ministers met last week at Chevening, the country residence shared by Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox, to discuss the trading implications of Brexit.

This coincided with a speech by the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in which he warned of full inspection of all loads entering Europe once the UK leaves the Union.

And that, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), had to be a wake-up call for all those attending the meeting which, it said, marked the starting point for serious discussion of how the new trading procedures and formalities with the EU will work post-Brexit.

Pointing out that, while a week may be a long time in politics, two years counts as short-term planning in most companies, FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham stressed that a "wait and see" approach will not work for the logistics industry.

"We need an immediate start on building the new Customs systems for the 300 million additional declarations that will be required to be made," he went on, "the learning programmes for the 180,000 businesses that will need to learn how to use them."

Mr Hookham then called for 21st century approaches to inspecting and checking loads to avoid the need to check vehicles at the UK's congested ports.

The manufacturers’ organisation, EEF, was also represented at the meeting by its chief executive Terry Scuoler, who said; "We had an open and frank discussion and we’ve started a process where we will work together to obtain as much clarity and certainty as possible for industry as we prepare to leave the EU."

Finally, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the fact that Ministers seemed in "listening mode" and were committed to achieving a pro-business Brexit.