This blog was originally published in Motion Magazine.
Leo Kearse, Scottish comedian of the year 2017, summed it up when he said, “Brexit was like the UK got drunk and accidentally unfriended Europe on Facebook”.
It’s all a bit of a shambles isn’t it. Some of the 51.9% who voted to leave say that if they had known then what they know now, they may have voted to remain, while some of the ‘remainers’ say: “We told you this would happen”.
But it is what it is and right now it’s a mess. Had Government given the public all the facts before the Referendum and kept them better informed as to the ramifications of exiting the EU, it could have been a very different story.
Of course, with less than 150 days to go until we wave goodbye to the EU, an extra ‘Are you absolutely sure?’ referendum would be no more than another example of shutting the stable door long after the horse had bolted, and the stable turned into an artisan coffee shop.
If another referendum takes place – this time with the UK knowing all the risks – and the benefits, we would know for certain if we were doing the right thing. As it is, only time will tell but right now, it feels as though we’re sleepwalking into disaster.
We are getting no demonstrable leadership from government. But in their defence, how can they lead when it is clear they don’t know what lies ahead?
In September, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab’s department released its advice on how to prepare if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal in place by March 2019.
Frustratingly, much of his advice is already known – lorry drivers will need to carry permits to enter EU countries and will need to hand over additional paperwork about their cargo and its movements – changes which will slow down road freight considerably.
Under the current system, fruit picked in Spain ends up on UK shelves the next day. It’s moving all the time. If you delay a lorry by two minutes at Dover, you cause tailbacks of around 30 miles. Surely the advent of Brexit will mean more than when Kent, always referred to as the Garden of England became Europe’s biggest truck park?
Currently, the UK haulage industry holds just 1,200 permits but with approximately 10,000 lorries passing through the Port of Dover daily, how will that work?
Does the Government have contingency measures in place to maintain the free flow of goods to the rest of Europe? If it does, then the industry responsible for the movement of the economies on both sides of the Channel needs to know about them.
So, here’s a request to government: Please don’t unfriend the haulage industry – you need us to make Brexit work. As for your ‘privacy settings’, you would be well advised to set them to ‘view all’ so that everyone will know what’s happening.