In writing this report, I wish to express my sincerest thanks and acknowledgement to the many transport businesses and industry groups who have helped to advice and ideas. Their taking part in round tables and seminars helped draw together this detailed plan to be Ready on Day One. Many businesses also wrote up detailed practical guidance and all have kindly reviewed this report and helped to improve it no end. Any errors or omissions remain my own.
This report sets out a detailed plan to ensure that the Channel Ports will be ready on day one to avoid gridlock and meet the Brexit Borders Challenge. This includes:
1. Resilient Roads to the Channel Ports. The new Thames Crossing taken forward at speed, the M2/A2 upgraded and dualled all the way to the Channel Ports and the planned M20 Lorry Park to be delivered on time.
2. Open for Business with systems ready on day one to ensure that customs controls are handled seamlessly, with long queues avoided and technology used to speed customs processing.
3. A New Entente Cordiale to extend the Le Touquet Treaty to cover customs co-operation and build a new era of deeper co-operation with France.
4. A Brexit Infrastructure Bill. It takes years to build the simplest road. Yet we have less than two years to get ready. A powerful new law to speed through administrative processes would enable vital projects to be delivered on time.
5. One Government at the border to ensure order. There is a mind boggling array of ministries, quangos and agencies with border responsibilities. There should be a single ministry where the buck stops. This will avoid muddle and confusion that would otherwise undermine our ability to be ready on day one.
Gridlock at the Channel Ports will mean gridlock for the UK economy. With proper planning we can not only be ready on day one – we can make Brexit a real success.
It has been incredible to see how much positive energy we have in our transport businesses. My thanks to: the Dover Harbour Board, AB Ports, Forth Ports, the Port of Antwerp, the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel. The advice of ferry operators including DFDS and P&O has been very greatly appreciated.
Hauliers often bear the brunt of any queues or delays at our borders. They are determined to make sure that trade will continue to flow smoothly after we leave the EU. My gratitude to the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association for their practical advice on what will work.
Customs processing is a complex and specialised area that few can fathom. So my thanks to senior officials at HMRC, CNS (a division of Dubai Ports World) and to Tony Smith, the former head of UK Border Force, who is now Chief Executive of Fortinus Global Ltd.
Shippers and freight forwarders have also provided invaluable advice – including Neil Wiggins of IVOPS, as well as Paul Wells and Richard Catt on behalf of the Freight Liaison Group representing Dover Custom Brokers and Freight Agents.
My thanks also to Jeremy White of Pump Court Tax Chambers for his invaluable legal insight.
Finally it has been hugely encouraging to have the positive participation of the Calais authorities and the Hauts-De-France region – I am hugely grateful to regional president Xavier Bertrand for writing the Foreword to this report and his team for their positive and optimistic approach as to how Britain and France can work together as close partners in the years to come.