‘Emergency’ measures planned at UK ports
Empty trucks crossing the Channel to restock will be allowed to skip queues at key ports, as government concerns that the disruptions are set to worsen are mounting. Up to 300 trucks a day would be fast-tracked outside Dover and Folkestone, under a scheme open only to the largest supermarkets and their subcontractors.
A government proposal stated that ‘We are proposing an emergency contingency measure . . . to expedite the return of empty food lorries from the UK to the EU where they can be restocked with supplies’. The proposal has been sent to industry groups by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – which warned ‘the potential for further disruption remains high’.
It was revealed as Liz Truss, the trade secretary, rebuffed Labour calls to assess the economic harm from the Christmas Eve trade deal – which independent analysts have put at about 4.5 per cent of GDP. Ms Truss said it was time to “move forward”, despite the government publishing economic impact assessments for much-smaller ‘rolled over’ deals with the likes of Moldova and North Macedonia.
Ian Wright, director of The Food and Drink Federation, told MPs that suppliers remained “clueless” about some of the practical implications of a deal agreed “very, very late”.
“All members of the food supply chain have had very little time to get to grips with the provisions of the agreement and are still getting to grips with them,” he said.