Brexit border woe ‘perfect storm’ leaves deliveries cancelled and fish rotting on docks

British fishermen are struggling with the new rules (Image: PA)

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Brexit border rules are causing chaos for British businesses as firms warned of delays caused by new red tape.

A major parcel courier halted deliveries to the EU on Friday as firms complained of a "perfect storm" of post-Brexit changes hitting business.   

DPD UK said today it was pausing its road delivery services into Europe, including Ireland, until at least Wednesday, citing issues resulting from the EU-UK trade deal agreed last month, which came into effect on December 31.

It came as retailers warned that a new wave of red tape and tariffs was hitting trade.

Marks and Spencers and seafood companies have warned their businesses are grinding to a halt because of new rules.

UK fishermen also complained that the rules mean that British-landed fish are being left to rot because of a post-Brexit '"brick wall of bureaucracy" in French ports.

Labour accused the Government of poor preparation causing disruption to British businesses already hit hard by the coronavirus.

Marks and Spencers warned of a threat to their businesses on the continent
(Image: Javier Garcia/REX/Shutterstock)

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Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “The Government promised it had a plan to make sure things ran smoothly for businesses and hauliers post-Brexit.

“It’s clear the problems caused by its poor preparation and delaying tactics have not gone away.

"Ministers have to get a grip on this and make sure essential workers are actually able to do their jobs, or we risk seeing a repeat of the chaos on our roads at Christmas.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned that "busy times" may return to UK borders as firms get to grips with new paperwork after the exit from the EU single market.

Mr Shapps said: "It's been a quieter start to the year, a lot of that's to do with anticipations, so the stockpiling that's going on." He said the chaos seen last month while the post-Brexit transition period was still in place was due to the French closing the border because of concerns over the UK strain of coronavirus and was "nothing to do with the change of paperwork".

Parcel firm DPD warned that Boris Johnson ’s divorce settlement with Brussels had led to more complex processes and said they were pausing deliveries in order to deal with the disruption.

The company warned that up to 20% of parcels had incorrect or incomplete data, meaning they had to be returned to customers and announced a pause to its road service into Europe and Ireland until Wednesday.
Seafood exporters said they have been hit by a “perfect storm” of bureaucracy, IT problems and confusion following Brexit.

Prior to Christmas there was chaos at the border
(Image: Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

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Marks & Spencer said the new rules and regulations are set to “significantly impact” its overseas ventures in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France.

And hauliers described being “overwhelmed” by red tape due to new checks on deliveries to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Donna Fordyce, chief executive at Seafood Scotland, said exporters faced “new bureaucratic non-tariff barriers” with no one body able to fix the situation.

“It’s a perfect storm for Scottish seafood exporters. Weakened by Covid-19, and the closure of the French border before Christmas, the end of the Brexit transition period has unleashed layer upon layer of administrative problems, resulting in queues, border refusals and utter confusion,” she said.

“IT problems in France meant consignments were diverted from Boulogne sur Mer to Dunkirk, which was unprepared as it wasn’t supposed to be at the export front line.

"There have also been HMRC IT issues on the UK side that need to resolved ASAP regarding certification.

“A lack of knowledge and understanding of the required paperwork means some companies are ill-prepared for the new checks, which are taking far longer because of the mistakes being uncovered.

"When the systems settle down, checks should be carried out on samples from each load but now entire consignments are having to be checked to satisfy requirements.”

"M&S boss Steve Rowe warned that the trade agreement between the UK and the EU is causing problems with “potential tariffs on part of our range exported to the EU, together with very complex administrative processes”.

Haulier industry body Logistics UK said deliveries were being delayed as lorries arrived in Belfast with incomplete paperwork.

In order to avoid a hard border with the Republic, Mr Johnson agreed Northern Ireland would remain in the EU single market – but that has meant checks on goods arriving from Great Britain.

A Government spokesman said: “Businesses and hauliers have made huge strides to get ready but we were always clear that there would be some disruption at the end of the transition period.

“Although many businesses have moved goods successfully since January 1, we are aware of some issues, and are providing guidance and support.

“Hauliers can use our ‘Check a HGV is ready’ service to make sure they have correct paperwork and must obtain a Kent Access Permit if they plan to travel via Dover or Eurotunnel.”

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