The decision announced yesterday to extend Article 50 and delay the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and CBI.
The UK was set to leave today (12 April) with no deal if an extension had not been agreed, and the new deadline given by the EU is 31 October, although if the UK MPs can agree on a deal it can leave earlier.
Brexit was originally set to happen on 29 March. But after MPs repeatedly rejected Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, the deadline was put back to 12 April.
FTA Head of Global and European Policy, Pauline Bastidon said: “FTA welcomes the fact that the potential cliff edge of a No Deal departure from the EU has been postponed for now and is grateful for the extra preparation time the agreed extension offers to our members.
“While the risk of No Deal has receded for now, it is an outcome which cannot be excluded further down the line – indeed, it remains the legal default, in the absence of alternative arrangements.
“FTA is therefore calling on its members to use this extra time wisely. The association, which speaks for the logistics industry, will keep pushing for the best outcome for the sector, while continuing to support its members in their preparations and remaining vigilant should the situation change.”
The CBI has also welcomed the extension and director general, Carolyn Fairbairn said: “This new extension means that an imminent economic crisis has been averted, but it needs to mark a fresh start. More of the same will just mean more chaos this autumn.
“Businesses will today be adjusting their no deal plans, not cancelling them.
“For the good of jobs and communities across the country, all political leaders must use the time well. Sincere cross-party collaboration must happen now to end this crisis.”
Meanwhile, the FTA says logistics businesses should take the chance to speak out against the worsening skills shortage, and is calling on industry to support the call for evidence launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Road Freight and Logistics.
FTA head of skills, Sally Gilson said: “FTA is thrilled the APPG on Road Freight and Logistics has launched a call to evidence into the skills shortage. The logistics sector is already dealing with a severe shortfall – there are currently 52,000 vacancies for HGVs drivers alone – and with Brexit looming, losing access to vital EU workers will be simply catastrophic for both the logistics sector and wider economy.
“After all, the sector is the lifeblood of the UK economy, delivering the goods and services businesses need to operate, and contributing £121 billion to the nation’s GVA (gross value added). And while the sector is working hard to attract new homegrown talent, we are competing against many other industries also suffering skills shortages; we need more support.”
Gilson added: “Our members regularly come to us with same problem: the inability to fill transport and warehousing positions. This survey presents an opportunity for businesses to have their voices heard, a chance to express their concerns and frustrations, in addition to providing a platform to share ideas and suggestions.
“FTA has been campaigning relentlessly over the years for the government to grasp the full nature of the skills shortage and the threat it poses: without logistics workers; the economy will come grinding to halt and British trade will suffer irrevocably.”