Emergency powers to manage post-Brexit lorry queues are to be made indefinite due to ongoing disruption.
The measures, which were initially taken in October 2019 because of Brexit, have already been extended once when the transition period ended in December last year – and the latest move suggests ministers think there is going to be more havoc, The Guardian has reported.
Removing “sunset clauses” from the legislation means there will no longer be a date attached to when these powers will expire.
The decision was published quietly in a government consultation response, even though transport secretary Grant Shapps has previously admitted the traffic system in question “frustrated residents and businesses”.
In the light of this, Sarah Olney, Lib Dem transport spokeswoman, told The Guardian that the Tories’ “botched deal with the EU” are harming businesses and consumers and that the government should instead “fix the underlying cause”
Naomi Smith, Best for Britain chief executive, said: “This is an admission that far from ‘teething problems’, the government expects supply problems from their rushed Brexit deal to continue indefinitely.
“Shelves are empty and our supply chains are already at breaking point. The government should be seeking improvements to their deal with Europe rather than preparing to make Kent a permanent lorry park.”
But a Department for Transport spokesperson told the newspaper that the measures will be “temporary” and only used when there is a “significant risk of delays”.
The spokesperson said that initially the plan was made in response to Brexit, but will be used for other disruptions too, such as strikes.
The Boris Johnson parody account was quick to react, saying: “The emergency Brexit powers for lorry queues were meant to end in 2020.
“We have decided to make them permanent, now that the ‘teething problems’ have turned out to be a throbbing, pus-filled abscess.”
Former civil servant Siobhan Benita said: “We have a choice. We can admit Brexit was a mistake and campaign to rejoin the EU.
“Or, we can wave our flags a bit harder and suffer the damage forever. I choose #RejoinEU.”
And David Schneider gave a useful recap of the past week’s Brexit chaos, saying it’s not just lorry lanes being made permanent, but also roaming charges, food deliveries by the army, emptying supermarket shelves, critical shortage of vets, and worsening lorry drivers shortages.
“And it’s only Tuesday,” he noted.
Russ Jones gave a brief verdict: “Today in unpredictable consequences.”
The emergency Brexit powers for lorry queues were meant to end in 2020.— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) August 10, 2021
We have decided to make them permanent, now that the ‘teething problems’ have turned out to be a throbbing, pus-filled abscess. https://t.co/D5rD2dsTfm
This week in Brexit— David Schneider (@davidschneider) August 10, 2021
✅Roaming charges to apply in EU
✅Army to deliver food
✅Supermarket shelves emptying
✅Critical shortage of vets
✅Haulier shortage getting worse
✅Queueing lanes for lorries to be made permanent
And it’s only Tuesdayhttps://t.co/Jb1iWECrmY
Today in unpredictable consequenceshttps://t.co/RFJ3r3BADs— Russ Jones (@RussInCheshire) August 10, 2021
In June, there was chaos in Kent, with lorry drivers faced with parking shortages and poor toilet facilities.
Unite the union said truckers have been involved in fights because the services have become “chronically overcrowded”, the BBC reported.
The pressure on the facilities comes despite the fact that the UK has been experiencing a lorry driver shortage, which has caused food shortages and could see gaps on supermarket shelves for months to come.
This is because post-Brexit rules and Covid travel restrictions have kept out many Eastern Europeans, who were the main group of workers in the industry – but more and more of them, who are already in the UK, have recently left or are planning to leave, as one Romanian lorry driver told The London Economic.