Government plays down Brexit fuel threat

London, UK: A leaked cross-government study warning of the effect of a no-deal Brexit is a “worst-case scenario”, says cabinet minister, Michael Gove.

The dossier, leaked to the Times newspaper, warns of food and medicine shortages if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The document, Operation Yellowhammer, indicates a hard Brexit would be “far, far more potentially disruptive” than industry has been told to prepare for, according to the Freight Transport Association.

The UK government must urgently clarify what it predicts the impact of no deal will be for moving goods into and around Britain, James Hookham, deputy chief executive, Freight Transport Association said.

The FTA was particularly blindsided by the suggestion in the leaked document that the government’s own no-deal zero-tariff policy could hit the UK’s domestic fuel industry, leading to the closure of two refineries, strikes and disruption to fuel availability, Hookham said.

The FTA had not seen the original Yellowhammer document but is concerned that the report shows : the potential of Brexit to disrupt all UK goods distribution activity and commercial activity if domestic fuel supplies are under threat. “That’s certainly never been raised with us before,” Hookham said.

“We’re calling for some kind of independent review of the evidence and the scenarios that the government’s using, just to get it all out on the table. What we’re feeling now is that we’re just shooting in the dark, we’re being asked to prepare for something that we don’t fully understand and that the government’s not prepared to share with us … All of a sudden this isn’t just queues at Dover … this could have a knock-on effect to all domestic goods distribution and that is orders of magnitude more than we were led to believe might happen.”

Any threat to fuel supplies would be a “game-changer,” Hookham said, and urged the government to be open about its expectations to help industry prepare. 

“What we want now is just some honesty and some clarity. How can we help to mitigate this if we don’t know what we’re trying to solve?”

Gove, who is responsible for no-deal preparation, said the document was old and Brexit planning had accelerated since the report was prepared. But he acknowledged no deal would bring disruption, or “bumps in the road”.

According to Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier leaked to the Sunday Times, the UK could face months of disruption at its ports after a no-deal Brexit. And plans to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are unlikely to prove sustainable, it adds.

The dossier says leaving the EU without a deal could lead to:

• A hard Irish border after plans to avoid checks fail, sparking protests

• Fresh food becoming less available and prices rising

• Fuel becoming less available and 2,000 jobs being lost if the government sets petrol import tariffs to 0%, potentially causing two oil refineries to close

• UK patients having to wait longer for medicines, including insulin and flu vaccines

• A rise in public disorder and community tensions resulting from a shortage of food and drugs

• Passengers being delayed at EU airports, Eurotunnel and Dover• Freight disruption at ports lasting up to three months, caused by customs checks, before traffic flow improves to 50-70% of the current rate

Gove said some of the concerns about a no-deal Brexit had been “exaggerated”. “It’s certainly the case that there will be bumps in the road, some element of disruption in the event of no-deal.

“But the document that has appeared in the Sunday Times was an attempt, in the past, to work out what the very, very worst situation would be so that we could take steps to mitigate that.

Former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake – who described the document as “credible” – said the dossier “lays bare the scale of the risks we are facing with a no-deal Brexit in almost every area”.

“These risks are completely insane for this country to be taking and we have to explore every avenue to avoid them,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said, in a tweet, that Dublin had “always been clear” a hard border in Ireland “must be avoided”

WORLD NEWS

European truck sales slump in face of coronavirus

Brussels, Belgium: European truck and van registrations slumped by 67% in April providing statistical demonstration of the effect of the coronavirus. The fallout of the …

READ THE FULL STORY >

Georgia Port cold chain suppliers hold strong

Savannah, Georgia, USA: Producers, shipping lines and logistics providers that form the global supply chain for Savannah’s chilled cargo imports have continued to deliver “rock-solid …

READ THE FULL STORY >

CSafe launches real-time track and trace

Dayton, Ohio, USA: CSafe Global has fitted track and trace technology to its active air cargo containers. CSafe partnered with DHL for a pilot shipment. …

READ THE FULL STORY >

XPO Logistics ranked No 1 in transport and logistics by Fortune 500

Greenwich, Connecticut, USA: XPO Logistics ranks at No 1 in the Fortune 500 category of transportation and logistics for the fourth straight year. The Fortune …

READ THE FULL STORY >

WHAT’S ON

  • Cold Chain Live
    Make a diary note for Cold Chain Live, 24 – 25 September, Birmingham, UK

Latest Tweets

© 2020 Global Cold Chain News | Terms of use | Privacy Policy
Commercial Transport Publishing Limited, registered in England and Wales, Company No: 6453302. Registered Office: 6 Corunna Court, Corunna Road, Warwick CV34 5HQ