Exports to EU plunged 68% in month after Brexit, hauliers say

Exports to the EU plunged massively last month compared with January 2020

Chantal da Silva@chantaladasilva
Monday 08 February 2021 14:56
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Brexiteers ‘crying salty tears’ need to accept consequences of their actions, says politician

Exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a whopping 68 per cent last month compared with January last year, according to new figures shared by the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

The new data, based on a survey of the RHA’s members, was detailed in a letter sent by the association to the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, on Monday, pleading for “urgent intervention” to support critical supply chains.

Largely blaming Brexit for the dramatic drop, Richard Burnett, the RHA’s chief executive, wrote that he “warned repeatedly that there was a lack of clarity over how the new arrangements would work and that hauliers, traders and manufacturers were confused, having had insufficient time to prepare” ahead of 31 December, which marked the end of the Brexit transition period.

“Since transition, we have worked tirelessly to demonstrate the devastating consequences these changes are having but it is very clear that government are not doing enough to address them,” he said in the letter, which was first reported on by The Observer.

Mr Burnett stressed that he did not believe the coronavirus pandemic was to blame for the fall in exports, writing: “For clarity, the current situation should not be considered a consequences of Covid. If anything, the absence of the pandemic would have made it worse, because volumes would be greater.”

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In an interview with The Observer, the RHA head said that in addition to the 68 per cent drop in exports, about 65 to 75 per cent of vehicles coming over from the EU were going back empty because of issues on the UK side and as a result of some British companies temporarily or permanently stopping exports to the EU.

The situation, Mr Burnett told the publication, has been “deeply frustrating”, with the RHA head accusing ministers of failing to listen to repeated warnings from the RHA and other industry experts.

The RHA head took specific aim at Mr Gove, calling him the “master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back”.

The Independent has contacted Mr Gove's office for comment. The RHA has also been contacted for further response.

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