UK Brexit negotiator concedes that there will be traffic delays at Dover (and on the M20).

Today’s The Times reports that Mr David Davis has conceded all vehicles passing through the ports would have to be checked through Customs after March 2019 which will mean severe traffic delays and possibly Operation Stack on the M20 back to Junction 8 in Hollingbourne. Warnings about this scenario have previously been issued by the Port of Dover, the Road Haulage Association, and the UK Chamber of Shipping.

It is expected that the delays will result in higher food and other costs because of delays in the supply chain and production problems for manufacturers who rely upon “just in time” parts deliveries. In 2015 when there were about 35 days of Operation Stack with the M20 closed at Junction 8 so that trucks could be parked on the motorway, there were traffic problems all round Kent and leaving Hollingbourne via the Hollingbourne Corner roundabout could be difficult as non-port traffic was sent along the A20.

In view of the possibility of this situation arising again and the likelihood of traffic jams across Kent, local KCC Councillor Shellina Prendergast has been asked to update Hollingbourne Parish Council on the KCC response to this scenario at the next Parish Council Meeting on Monday 11th September at 7.30pm in the Cardwell Pavilion. All are welcome to attend.

The Times article is reproduced below:

Brexit: David Davis declares early death of scheme to beat customs delays

Businesses have warned that queues at ports would damage supply chains
Businesses have warned that queues at ports would damage supply chainsGareth Fuller/PA

Britain is unlikely to secure anything but a hard customs border with the European Union after Brexit, David Davis conceded yesterday.

Two weeks ago ministers announced proposals for an “innovative” and “unprecedented” approach to the UK-EU border that would remove the need for customs checks between Britain and Europe.

The UK said it would offer to collect duties on behalf of the EU for goods entering Britain that were bound for the single market. All goods would then have to be electronically tracked to ensure that the difference between any new UK tariff rates and existing rates in the EU was paid.

However, speaking in America yesterday Mr Davis appeared to concede that the plan was dead in the water after it was met with bafflement and scepticism from businesses and opposition in Brussels.

Instead he said that the UK was likely to adopt a “conventional approach” in which there would be a hard border between Britain and continental Europe where all goods had to be declared and possibly checked.

However, businesses have warned that delays could be deeply disruptive to complex supply chains that often rely on “just in time” deliveries for smooth manufacturing operations.

“It was a blue sky idea,” Mr Davis told an audience of American businesspeople. “I think the most likely [outcome] is the practical one, and vast amounts of work are going into that.”

Ministers had struggled to explain how the new system would work despite having included it prominently in the government’s 14-page position paper to the EU on future customs arrangements.

The Federation of German Industries said that the plan would create “disproportionately large bureaucratic burdens” and would be “impractical for businesses”.

British business groups maintained silence in public but expressed scepticism in private about the plan and the cost burden it would place on exporters.

Mr Davis acknowledged this yesterday, saying that the scheme carried “an administrative burden”.

“If you are a company bringing a product in you have to track the product and know where it’s going,” he said.

Mr Davis also used his appearance at the US Chamber of Commerce to distance himself from comments by Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, who said that Brussels was engaging in blackmail by insisting on settling the “divorce bill” before negotiations.

Mr Davis said that he would not comment on other minsters’ views. “We are in a difficult, tough, complicated negotiation,” he said. “I have said from the beginning it will be turbulent. What we’re having at the moment is the first ripple, and there will be more ripples.”

He refused again to rule out paying large sums to the EU in return for a beneficial transition arrangement.

Addressing a room filled with diplomats and businesspeople steps from the White House, Mr Davis made the case against protectionism. A Britain untied from Europe would be a force for freer trade and more open markets, he said.

“The answer to the economic problems of the West cannot be to turn our back on globalisation and trade,” he said. “It’s to lead the world forward once again. “This is the great prize that we can win from Brexit — a Britain committed to striking new free-trade agreements across the globe.”

However, he appeared to concede that a new deal with the US would take time. Britain is restricted by legal obligations to Brussels that prevent trade discussions with other partners from starting until much of Brexit has been hammered out.

Although President Trump has promised that a free-trade deal with the UK will come “very, very quickly”, his administration has put the focus on domestic manufacturing and the trade in goods.

He has also voiced support for increased tariffs, threatening them against China and Mexico.

By contrast the goal for Britain after Brexit, Mr Davis said, would be to liberalise trade in services.

“It’s natural, I’m afraid, in politics to focus on the obvious. It’s easy to see lots of cars crossing a border or whatever,” he said. “It’s harder to see the effects, as it were, the virtual world of services, but we are working on that.”

Previous articles about this subject in reverse chronological order on the Hollingbourne website are at:

Local KCC Councillor to report back on KCC policy regarding Channel traffic following Brexit.

National newspaper report about traffic jams in Kent after Brexit.

No assurances yet on Operation Stack funding after Brexit.

UK Chamber of Shipping and others warn of traffic jams on the M20 after Brexit.