An article in the FT this morning explores issues concerning the future of the Dover – Calais trade route.
As the article notes, at present it takes an average of just four minutes from a lorry leaving a ferry in Dover for it to exit the port. However, after Brexit every single one of these vehicles will require customs clearance.
On the French side all the necessary arrangements for the post Brexit era have already been put in place and the technology has all been designed and is ready for installation in the ships so that drivers can be forewarned when on board of what will be required of them when they land.
In the UK no one, as yet, knows what the requirements will be. No technology has been trialled because that is impossible because the requirements are not known. Only 1,000 of the 150,000 regular importers and exporters have, so far, been granted an enhanced status to reduce the amount of delay that they might suffer. And as for the infrastructure, all that anyone knows is that it cannot be at the ports because there is no room for it there, but where it might be is anyone’s guess. We can be quite sure that it is not in place.
Taking these factors into account my forecast, made yesterday, that we might suffer severe disruption to food supply chains after Brexit seems a little optimistic. Total breakdown seems more likely.