Logistics groups focus on Brexit after Johnson named as the new Prime Minister

With Boris Johnson being announced as the UK’s next prime minister today, promising to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October, the logistics industry has once again turned it focus on Brexit.

The Road Haulage Association called on Johnson to ensure that borders between the UK and EU remain free-flowing after Brexit.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said: “It’s vital for UK businesses that Mr Johnson ensures that firms can continue to move goods freely across our borders once we leave the EU."

He said that businesses are frustrated with a lack of clarity from the Government on what’s expected of them and how new systems will work.

“We urge the Prime Minister to ensure that his Government puts the right systems in place and gives firms the support they need to continue transporting freight efficiently.”

The Freight Transport Association meanwhile wrote to Johnson earlier this week to urge him to consider the impacts a no-deal Brexit would have on UK-EU supply chains, and to ensure the co-ordination of logistics activities at a high level to minimise and manage these effects in order to keep Britain trading.

“FTA has worked closely with government over the past three years to develop contingency plans for a No Deal Brexit,” explains James Hookham, Deputy Chief Executive for FTA, “We remain hugely concerned at the fragility of these plans and the state of readiness of traders, carriers and agencies on both sides of the border to implement them flawlessly as early as 31 October.

“As an apolitical organisation, we do not dispute the decision of the Referendum but we are convinced by our Members that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would be the worst possible outcome for the economy and is to be avoided at all costs.  We are however encouraging our members to prepare for all eventualities, but in order to do so, they need urgent action from Government, starting with the extension of easements previously conceded for 29 March, some of which will have expired before 31 October. 

“Many pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ remain incomplete if traders and hauliers are to continue to operate effectively after 31 October, but government preparations seem to have stalled.  We need these procedures to be completed and pending questions to be clarified and answered as soon as possible Livelihoods are dependent on cross border trade, both in Ireland and on the mainland, and the clock is ticking if businesses are to adopt and adapt to new trading processes and learn new procedures.

“Most importantly, there needs to be certainty around what will happen at the Irish land border for the haulage businesses that will be the first to cross it on the first morning of a no-deal Brexit.”

A new report suggests half of logistics companies haven’t started Brexit scenario planning. The CILT and Statista’s joint study, entitled the UK Logistics Monitor 2019, reveals how uncertainty around Brexit are affecting planning decisions.

While queues of lorries at Dover and supply chain chaos are often cited as the biggest threats of Brexit to logistics — particularly in a no-deal scenario — only one in three logistics firms have established a team to work out their Brexit strategy, and only one in five have made use of external help. In part, the report suggests, this indecision may be down to the government not being clear on what Brexit will mean for the UK or the logistics industry in particular.

Only a few are taking proactive measures, with 18% holding back from making investment decisions and 15% planning to move part of their company abroad. 13% admitted they haven’t taken any steps for Brexit.

The report also identifies current logistics developments and trends, while offering insights into the topics of HR, recruitment, technology and Brexit.

In terms of how leaving the EU will affect business, 39% of logistics companies believe that Brexit will have a negative effect on day-to-day operations, while 32% believe that Brexit will negatively affect their company’s economic situation. Another 40% depict a high uncertainty regarding economic effects on their company.

Kevin Richardson, Chief Executive, CILT, said: “With so much uncertainty around what Brexit will mean for the supply chain sector, firms are understandably struggling to plan. The profession urgently needs clarity on how Brexit will affect operations.

“With the supply chain being such an important part of the UK economy, underpinning almost every other sector, the UK government needs to act quickly so that we can prepare accordingly.

“Whether a deal is agreed or not, there is a strong possibility that Brexit will cause months of severe disruption and CILT encourages all of its members to stay agile, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”

Pic credit (inset): Foreign and Commonwealth Office [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]