Friday 4 September 2020 8:24 am

Logistics groups call for 'urgent' meeting with government over Brexit border disruption

The UK’s leading logistics and customs groups have called for “urgent” meetings with ministers to discuss Brexit border issues over their fears the supply chain “will be severely disrupted”.

Eight groups called for an “urgent roundtable meeting” with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport secretary Grant Shapps.

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“Our concern is so strong that we have collectively agreed to request an urgent roundtable meeting with yourself, the chancellor of the exchequer and secretary of state for transport,” they wrote in a letter to Gove obtained by the Financial Times.

In the letter, the groups raised their concerns over the pace of physical infrastructure being built at the border, funding to train customs agents and IT systems.

“We are asking you to take seriously our concerns and listen to the detail during this roundtable so that we can collectively help government manage through this enormous challenge,” the letter said.

A leaked Cabinet Office memo reported by Bloomberg yesterday said that ministers are asking hauliers and industry groups for help to avoid chaos at the border when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 October.

The memo warns there are “critical gaps” in the government’s preparations and some parts of its plans are “unmanageable”.

Transport minister Grant Shapps this morning insisted he was “absolutely confident” Britain will keep its supply chains moving after Brexit.

The FT reported that Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, which co-ordinated the letter to Gove, said: “The government has to listen and grasp the detail, because the issues being raised are not being resolved fast enough.”

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A government spokesperson said: “The Border Operating Model sets out in significant detail the approach to UK border controls after the transition period. We worked closely with industry in its development and will continue to do so as we move towards the end of the transition period.

“In addition to the Border Operating Model, we are also investing £705m in jobs, infrastructure and technology at the border and have announced a new £50m support package to boost the capacity of the customs intermediary sector ensuring we are ready for the changes and opportunities ahead.”