Transport Secretary accused of trying to silence RHA over Brexit planning concerns

Peterborough, UK: Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett has appeared on BBC’s Panorama programme, accusing Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of trying to silence the association from speaking out on the slow pace of government Brexit preparations.

Burnett issued a press release immediately after a briefing last August that left him frustrated by the lack of progress about planning for Brexit.

“We’d walked away from that meeting feeling like we’d not made any progress, that we’d hit a brick wall,” said Burnett.

Grayling then left a voicemail message for Burnett saying: “I had intended to include you in the planning over the next few months, but issuing a press release straight after a meeting like that makes it much more difficult for me to do that.”

Burnett said: “My sense of that message was ‘either you shut up or you don’t engage. You either play ball with us or you won’t be a part of the negotiations on behalf of the industry’. “

“We’ve got a government that’s trying to silence an industry that’s trying to help government, guide them.”

Discussions with the government continued after the voicemail message was sent. A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The RHA has been heavily involved in our EU exit preparatory work and we will continue to involve them at every stage of our planning. It is extremely unfortunate when details of private conversations held in confidence are made public in a press release.”

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