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Analysis

Freight, fruit and flights all frustrated. Thanks Brexiters!

by Luke Lythgoe | 21.06.2018

Two years after the referendum, and nothing is any clearer – except that the uncertainty is already hitting our industries hard.

Logistical nightmare

Freight transport chiefs have made it very clear that the government’s Brexit preparations aren’t good enough. They have warned of traffic gridlock, a lack of customs agents, and the Port of Dover “shutting the doors” one day after Brexit. And that’s just if there’s a deal. If there isn’t then goods won’t be moving anywhere. “Our patience is wearing very, very thin,” said the Freight Transport Association president.

The drugs don’t work

“The UK pharmaceutical industry and the patients who rely on it are under serious threat from Brexit,” warned the head of US drugs giant Pfizer. Brexit uncertainty and the NHS’s slow uptake of new drugs is putting off investors. We’re squandering our position as a world leader in life sciences.

Fruit rotting in the fields

Fruit is set to rot in the fields again this harvest. The British Summer Fruits (BSF) trade body said its members were 10% to 15% short of labour and expect to be more than 30% short by the autumn, due to the government dragging its feet on a seasonal agricultural workers scheme. “Solutions are being hamstrung by Brexit and the government’s inability to make firm decisions,” said the BSF chairman.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

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Skills gap widening

And it’s not just fruit farmers being hit. Nine in 10 firms are struggling to recruit the skilled staff they need, with Brexit set to have a “disastrous” impact on the UK’s ability to compete, according to a survey of 1,000 top employers by City and Guilds.

Final call for Brexit and aviation

Meanwhile a no-deal contingency plan for airlines is still not being discussed at the Brexit negotiations. Aviation bosses are clear what that might mean: planes grounded and unable to access EU airspace; maintenance crews unable to get hold of spare parts; aerospace manufacturers unable to work.

Even if there is a smooth transition, the US could still try to renegotiate our airlines’ access to its skies to get a preferential deal for its own companies. Now does that sound like something Donald Trump might try to do?

The inevitable downgrade

With all this going on, it’s hardly surprising that the Institute of Chartered Accountants downgraded its 2018 forecasts for growth from 1.7% to 1.3%.

Thanks Brexiters!

See our previous round-up of the toll Brexit is taking here.

Edited by Hugo Dixon