Here we go again with the old queues of Brexit lorries on UK roads scare – but at least this time that old fear-mongering chestnut has been given a bit of a new twist.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
According to the Express the French and the Irish have come up with an agreed plan to ensure that Irish commercial drivers get preference over those from the UK when crossing from Dover into France, presumably on the basis that no checks will be needed on those Irish trucks or the goods in them going into the EU.
This has got people on the UK side up in arms because the fear is that it will leave UK drivers stranded for hours at the back of the queue before they can cross to France.
The head of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, said:
"This seems completely impractical to me, and is full of potential flaws. It appears ill-thought through."
And Dover MP Charlie Elphicke commented:
"It beggars belief that the Irish think they can have special access through Dover just because the French say so."
But let's take a bit of a deeper look at this shall we?
Back in August I made a video about claims that post Brexit we would see huge amounts of lorries fouling up UK roads into our ports.
In it, I pointed to a Willis Towers Watson report that said three million goods vehicles travelled from Great Britain to mainland Europe in 2015.
Then I referenced a 2015 RAC Foundation report that said:
"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."
So, most of the traffic goes through the South East of the UK and most lorries are EU owned.
Now admittedly this report is over three years old, but I doubt that much has changed so let's see what the RAC report says about where the bulk of these lorries are based:
"The most recent government figures show that when outgoing lorry traffic from all UK ports is taken into account, Polish registered trucks are most common (21% of all outgoing road goods vehicles). They are followed by UK vehicles (13%), then those from the Netherlands (9%), Romania (9%), Germany (6%), Spain (5%), France (5%), Hungary (4%) and the Czech Republic (4%)."
Nary a mention of vehicles from the republic of Ireland.
So, what the French authorities seem to be saying is that Irish trucks will be favoured over the huge amounts of other EU trucks?
Can you imagine those hauliers and drivers from Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Spain and even their own French vehicles being held back while Irish trucks are waved passed them?
Good luck with that one!
Can you imagine ports being blocked by irate drivers of EU based lorries, but not because of anything the UK is doing, but because some EU states are playing petty politics at other EU states' expense?
Then there's the matter of EU law. Would they really be allowed to favour one nation's trucking business over all the others? Surely their single market rules won't allow that, will they?
Then there is the matter of their precious single market – who's to say that those Irish trucks won't be used to stop off here then take UK produced goods freely and totally unchecked into that hallowed single market? Oooh the horror!
Then there's the obvious point that all traffic of this kind is two way.
So, what if UK officials waved through all UK trucks using EU ports straight to the front of the queue to get back into the UK, on exactly the same basis? And if the French authorities decided to try and stop UK lorries getting anywhere French ports in the first place, that would be a declaration of economic warfare.
This whole thing is now getting extremely childish and I would bet a move like this would do as much, if not more, to cause anger between EU drivers and hauliers than it would in the UK.
And, as all EU lorries would inevitably get added to the list with the Irish trucks due to EU 'fairness' and ECJ rulings, you could end up seeing UK lorries queueing on the UK side and EU lorries queueing on the EU side!
And this could do us in the UK a favour as importers and exporters realise that the most effective way to deal with this would be to have a 50/50 split of EU and UK road haulage, so increasing our haulage share upwards from 13% very markedly!
There you go, another piece of Brexiteer positive thinking, while showing that the EU definitely does not hold all the cards!