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Brexit chaos ‘likely to get worse’ say industry chiefs

James Withers

James Withers: ‘critical mistake’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Food industry and haulage leaders have warned that the disruption faced at the borders over new Brexit regulations is likely to get worse this week.

James Withers, CEO of the trade body Scotland Food and Drink, said the UK Government’s dismissal of its request, along with other organisations, for a grace period was a “critical mistake”.

He said a short delay in imposing the regulations would have provided time for businesses to be informed and prepared following Britain’s departure from the EU on 31 December.

Amid continued chaos at ports around the country, Mr Withers said the situation was likely to deteriorate.

“By this time next week, pressure to revisit that will be even greater. Emergency financial aid may also be necessary,” he tweeted.

“For those that say businesses had years to prepare, a reminder that the final Border Operating Model (all 160+ pages) was published 6 hours before the end of the transition period.”


The Road Haulage Association, the trade body representing road transport and freight logistics operators, said the “real extent of the impact this red tape is having on industry and businesses” will only start to be felt in the coming weeks because volumes for import and export are at the lowest point in the year.”

Some businesses, including Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, have temporarily suspended supplies to Northern Ireland, while a number of EU based suppliers to Ireland are by-passing the usual journeys through the UK because of the additional taxes required.

The warnings came after the SNP demanded that Boris Johnson compensates Scottish businesses for the mounting costs and disruption caused by Brexit disruption.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said it is “unforgivable” that Scotland is being forced to pay the price for the damage the Tory government is doing.

He called for a multi-billion compensation package to mitigate the costs to Scotland’s businesses and economy. 

He said: “This disastrous Tory Brexit was a completely unnecessary act of economic vandalism, which has been inflicted against Scotland’s will.

“With businesses, industries and communities across Scotland warning of rising costs, bureaucracy and delays, it is clear Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has already left the UK poorer and worse off – with absolutely no benefit to Scotland at all. Every promise has been broken.

“The UK government must now provide an urgent multi-billion package of compensation to Scotland to mitigate the lasting Brexit harm done to Scottish businesses, industries and communities.”

Ian Blackford Commons

Ian Blackford: ‘broken promises’

Scottish food exports have been particularly hard hit in the first week of new regulations, with reports of supplies ruined and businesses facing tens of thousands of pounds of losses.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Dean Lockhart accused the SNP of “stirring up grievances” when the Scottish Government has received “hundreds of millions of pounds” from Westminster.

He added: “More than four years after the vote to leave the EU, the SNP have failed in their duty to support firms in Scotland in getting ready for the new trading arrangements.

“They are not being transparent about where they have spent the significant funding they have received in preparation money from the UK Government.

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