The British Ports Association (BPA) has warned of the consequences of a ‘no deal’ Brexit for UK trade after the vote in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement was canceled and said terminals would need fresh investment to maintain trade.
MPs were due to vote on December 10 on the deal negotiated by Theresa May, but Prime Minister Theresa May called it off as it became clear the government was going to be defeated.
May will now meet EU leaders in Brussels in an attempt to renegotiate elements of the agreement, in particular, the ‘backstop’, a clause designed to keep the border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland open in the event the UK and EU don’t agree on a permanent trade deal.
However, Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, the EU’s executive, has ruled out any renegotiation in a speech to the European Parliament this morning.
I will meet @theresa_may this evening in Brussels. I remain convinced that the #Brexit deal we have is the best – and only – deal possible. There is no room for renegotiation, but further clarifications are possible.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) December 11, 2018
Speaking about the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, Richard Ballantyne, the BPA’s chief executive, said this: “If there is a hard Brexit the roll-on roll ports which facilitate tens of thousands of lorry and trailers movements between Britain and Europe every day could face real challenges.
“Adapting terminals and systems to accommodate new borders processes at short notice would be very difficult although at non ro-ro ports, while there definitely could be some issues, the pressures would be less challenging.
“This is not just an issue for ports: wider supply chains could also face major changes.
“We have been speaking extensively to colleagues in the haulage, logistics, manufacturing and customs agency sectors and its fair to say that across industry substantial reorganization and culture change would be needed to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
“This will take time and investment.”