Image by Graham Richardson (CC-BY-2.0)


One of the big Brexit fear mongering stories doing the rounds, is that of miles and miles of UK roads being clogged up with lorries trying to get over the channel into the EU. But there is another side to this story.

Having read the umpteenth Brexit scare story about a major seizure of our road system around our ports, especially in the South East, as lorries start using motorways as lorry parks post-Brexit, I thought I'd do a bit of digging.

Now what I wanted to do was look around at some stats that pre-date Brexit so as to remove any fear-mongering or skewed reporting from the mix. So anything I could get from 2015 seemed to be a good bet.

Now, the first point to note is that, according to Willis Towers Watson:

"In 2015, 3 million goods vehicles travelled from Great Britain to mainland Europe."

But further, you can quickly get to realise that this is a circuitous exercise and that overall, the number of lorries going out will be just about the same number as those coming in. So it would be safe to assume that 3 million lorries or thereabouts entered the country from the EU too.

Otherwise we'd very quickly either have wall to wall HGVs, or none at all.

But I needed a bit more data and I stumbled on a 2015 report from the RAC Foundation that said that record freight volumes was putting a strain on Channel crossings.

This report said that in 2014, 1.98 million goods vehicles crossed the Dover Strait heading for the continent – that's just the Dover Strait.

But it was the next sentence that caught my eye:

"Of the 1.98 million trucks leaving the country via the South East last year the bulk were foreign registered with only 257,000 (13%) registered here in the UK."

And it went on to say that 21% of those vehicles alone were Polish registered.

Now, I know that since 2014 foreign hauliers have started paying tolls to use our roads, but I'm not sure that will have changed the proportions much of foreign registered goods vehicles compared to those from the UK, crossing the channel back and forth.

And these vehicle operators will want to pick up, transport, drop at the destination and then for efficiency, get a pick up as close and as quickly as they can to take somewhere else and then repeat the exercise. But as far as I can ascertain about 20% of lorry traffic on our roads are empty journeys, ie, no cargo.

Now, as the EU sells us more than we sell to them I would hazard a guess that a proportion of lorry trips from the UK into the EU are empty journeys whereas all but a few would be fully loaded coming in. But that's just a guess.

Now, the real point here is that 87% of the lorries trying to get out of the UK are foreign, mostly EU, based and those EU lorry operators will not want their expensive haulage tractors stuck in the UK queueing up, while their own EU border force plays the silly swine.

Further, the EU companies that rely on those trucks to get their produce into the UK in order to make a profit and keep their companies afloat, will not be happy when EU hauliers refuse to give them transport; either because their fleet is island locked in the UK, or because the lorry operator will not chance the journey.

In this scenario, EU businesses exporting to the UK and this huge EU based transport concern, will both be under severe financial pressure. All hostage to their own EU border policy.

That will not endear the Eurocrats to those EU based businesses, will it?

Now this is just a layman's surface level snap-shot of a very, very complex subject, but the basic numbers do make you think.

However, Project Fear Mark three on steroids with extra turbo is still ongoing.

The Independent reports that the Association of British Insurers has said that if the UK leaves the EU without a specific deal, then it will be 'illegal' to pay pensions into EU bank accounts of UK pensioners living in the EU.

"That is a perfectly plausible risk in the future if no agreement is reached in some countries of the EU." Said Huw Evans, the ABI’s director general, in a Commons evidence session.

Now, the UK can quickly pass a law to make it possible, so any problems would be the fault of the EU in not allowing it.

Now, I'm sure that some clever-clogs lawyer could successfully argue that denying any citizen living legally in the EU of their pension money rightfully earned, would be a breach of their human rights.

And the ABI spokesperson also forgets, I think, that there are many EU citizens who have lived and worked in the UK therefore accruing UK pension rights, they will be demanding payment when the time comes too.

Now to industry. The Confederation of British Industry reports that UK manufacturing has picked up.

According to its latest Industrial Trends Survey, manufacturing growth accelerated at its strongest pace in a year.

"The survey of 357 manufacturers revealed that new orders continued to expand at a brisk pace, with a pick-up in the domestic market offsetting a slight slowdown in new export orders." The CBI reported. With their chief economist Rain Newton-Smith saying:

"The pick-up in output growth is good news and with new orders still running at a healthy rate, the near-term outlook for manufacturers remains reasonably bright."

The CBI did however caution that there was still a skills gap and that some investment was being held back due to rising trade tensions and Brexit uncertainty.

Finally, in a raft of announcements today, just before our political class rushes off on their summer hols, the government has said it will be selling off the home of the Red Arrows display team, RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. This airfield was also the base for the famous 617 Dambusters Squadron in WWII.

Not a good day for the RAF, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year – and I reckon we'll end up seeing a huge housing estate on the way instead.

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