Brexit to blame for empty trucks and shelves | Letters
There is a lot of talk about the fact that the fuel shortages and empty supermarket shelves we see (the UK fuel crisis ‘could last an extra week’ despite military aid on October 4) were caused by the lack of truck drivers, and that’s a pre-Brexit problem. At first glance, this could have been the case. However, the UK’s exit from the EU removed the benefits of cabotage. It is an efficient system which has ecological advantages as it facilitates the movement of goods. It makes it possible to replace previously empty journeys with chargeable charges that fill the gaps in the logistics network, thus avoiding such shortages of vehicles and drivers.
Being part of the EU cabotage system meant that trucks registered in Europe or the UK could transport goods from a truck’s home country to the destination country, be it Manchester or Milan. Cabotage allowed any vehicle registered in the EU to pick up a return load from Manchester and take it to London or from Paris to Brussels. From Brussels, another load could be collected and delivered to Berlin or Warsaw or Cambridge.
But leaving the EU limited the ability of European trucks operating in the UK to fill our deficit. It also removed the incentive for EU trucks to travel to the UK. As a result, many European trucks travel empty to Dover or another port of exit. It is not only the shortage of drivers that is the problem, but also the lack of vehicles. The deficits are therefore the direct result of the UK’s exit from the EU and the Conservative government’s incompetent negotiations.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk