Hauliers have raised concern over a huge drop in British exports to the EU since the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December.
Exports from Britain to the EU dropped by 68 per cent in January compared to the same month in 2020. The collapse has infuriated hauliers who claim that the government has been “ignoring warnings” on post-Brexit trade.
The increase in paperwork and border checks has prompted the need for more customs agents. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) called for an increase from 10,000 customs agents currently in place to 50,000.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “We don’t recognise these figures at all. “We know there are some specific issues and we are working with businesses to resolve them.”
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett said it`s “deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts”, who have been calling for government`s greater consultation.
In a statement, Mr Burnett said: “Michael Gove is the master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back. He responds on WhatsApp and says he got the letter but no written response comes.
“He tends to get officials to start working on things. But the responses are a complete waste of time because they don’t listen to what the issues were that we raised in the first place.”
Last year on Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced that there would be “no non-tariff barriers” to trade with the EU.
A government spokesperson said: “Thanks to the hard work put in by hauliers and traders to get ready for the end of the Brexit transition period, there are no queues at the Short Straits, disruption at the border has so far been minimal and freight movements are now close to normal levels, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a responsible government, we made extensive preparations for a wide range of scenarios at the border, including the reasonable worst case. However, it appears increasingly unlikely that our reasonable worst-case scenario will occur.”