LONDON (Reuters) – British trucks could face delays of up to two days to enter Europe and queues of around 7,000 lorries after Britain leaves the bloc at the end of this year, disrupting imports and exports of crucial goods, the government has warned.
Michael Gove, the minister overseeing the Brexit talks, told the logistics and freight industry that truck drivers would face new customs controls and processes irrespective of whether a trade deal can be agreed between the two sides.
He said under the government’s reasonable worst case scenario, up to 70% of trucks travelling to the EU might not be ready for new border controls.
“This could lead to maximum queues of around 7,000 port bound trucks in Kent (in England) and associated maximum delays of up to two days,” he said.
Britain formally left the bloc in January but remains in a status quo transition period that will expire at the end of this year. The government assumes EU member states will impose third country controls on Britain at the end of the transition period.
“Irrespective of the outcome of negotiations between the UK and EU, traders will face new customs controls and processes,” he said. “Simply put, if traders, both in the UK and EU, have not completed the right paperwork, their goods will be stopped when entering the EU and disruption will occur.”
Dover, in the southeast of England, has been Britain’s most important gateway to Europe since Roman times and the port now handles 17 percent of the United Kingdom’s goods trade. Up to 10,000 trucks a day pass through with everything from perishable food to medicines.
A government spokesman said this was not a forecast or prediction of what will happen but rather a “stretching scenario”.
It is also launching a Smart Freight IT service that will enable drivers and hauliers to complete a border readiness check, and only allow compliant vehicles to enter the port area.