Warnings of no-deal ports chaos are ‘misleading’
WARNINGS of a “logjam” at Britain’s ports as a result of a no-deal Brexit are misleading, a senior representative of the industry has said.
It comes after Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, said that ports would face chaos if the UK left the EU without a deal and would take “years” to adapt.
But Tim Morris, the chief executive of UK Major Ports Group, the trade body, said: “The UK’S port sector is a resilient, adaptable and highly competitive one, offering customers a range of options. We will work through the challenges of Brexit as we have done with huge changes throughout the centuries.”
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph on behalf of port operators responsible for 75 per cent of the UK’S seaborne trade, Mr Morris challenged the Chancellor’s warnings, which used Dover port as an example. He said: “Dover, which handles around 6 per cent of total UK port volumes, faces a unique combination of Brexit risk factors that are not faced by most UK major ports.
“These ports already have the capacity and the infrastructure to handle large volumes of both EU and noneu trade today without ‘logjam’.” He suggests planning restrictions pose the bigger long-term issue: “A challenge faced by all ports is the constraints on growth and job creation applied by the current planning system.”
SIR – The impact of Brexit at Dover would not be common to the UK ports sector as a whole (“Major ports to be disrupted for six months under no deal”, telegraph.co.uk, December 7).
I write on behalf of the United Kingdom’s major port operators, responsible for handling 75 per cent of the country’s seaborne trade.
Dover, handling around 6 per cent of UK port volumes, faces a unique combination of Brexit risk factors that are not faced by most major UK ports.
These ports already have the capacity and infrastructure to handle large volumes of both EU and non-eu trade today without “logjam”.
The UK’S port sector is resilient, adaptable and highly competitive. We will work through the challenges of Brexit as we have with huge changes through the centuries. Our island nation has always been dependent on sea trade and the ports that enable it.
UK Major Ports Group members invest more than half a billion pounds of private-sector funds a year in the UK. They are ambitious to do more, whatever the eventual Brexit outcome. Making the planning system for ports more helpful to investment is key to unlocking their potential. Tim Morris
Chief Executive Officer United Kingdom Major Ports Group London SE1 SIR – Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister and an expert on economic game theory, explicitly warned Theresa May (report, April 29 2017), in his book Adults in the Room, exactly how to avoid being captured in the EU’S negotiating net.
He also predicted precisely how the EU would play its game – with the price of divorce agreed first, followed by a withdrawal agreement and lastly the trade agreement.
Since our PM is averse to listening, she ignored all the warnings on how not to play the UK’S hand and fell into every single trap laid by the EU.
She has worked behind the backs of two Brexit secretaries and she must be removed at the earliest opportunity, before she does further harm to our country and the Conservative Party. Godfrey Green
SIR – Will someone please cut the long grass! Neville Jackson
SIR – On Question Time, your distinguished columnist Charles Moore remarked that on the panel of six, he was the only one to have voted Leave in the referendum.
Mr Moore is an educated and thinking person. Remainers like to make out that the referendum was won by the votes of the poorly educated and unthinking. We Leavers are thus shamed, if not intimidated, into remaining modestly quiet.
But Mr Moore and other exceptions to this hypothesis suggest it might be tested further. May I then divulge a shameful secret: my husband and I both voted Leave. We both gained Firsts from Cambridge University.
And may I invite other Leavers to speak up for themselves and so correct Remain’s negative characterisation? Anna Rist
SIR – As usual, Michael Gove isn’t as clever as he thinks he is. He supports Mrs May’s deal, claiming that the EU won’t enforce the backstop because this would not be in its interests.
Relying on the rational self-interest of any party is a mug’s game. Germany would never go to war with Britain, it was argued before 1914: with so much trade between the two countries, it would be an irrational act of self-harm.
Zimbabwe would never get rid of its white farmers: it could not feed itself.
Mr Gove should remember Aesop. The frog agrees to take the scorpion across the river because the scorpion points out they will both die if it stings the frog. Halfway across, it stings the frog. As they drown, the frog asks why. “It’s my nature,” replies the scorpion.
The EU’S nature was amply shown during the negotiations. We won’t get an agreement until it has sucked us dry and crippled our economy to deter any other member state from leaving. Jacquie Pearce
Cowes, Isle of Wight
SIR – Michael Gove has a sense of mischief. As he stands on Tuesday to close the Brexit debate, how tempting it will be to tear up the speech approved by No 10 and say: “Actually, the deal is a bad one, let’s vote against it. The PM is a bad PM, let’s get rid of her. I resign from the Cabinet and I’ve sent my letter to Sir Graham Brady.” David Anderson
SIR – You report (December 6) Chris Grayling saying: “We had a 52-48 vote. What we need is a deal that reflects that.” No wonder we have a constitutional crisis and terrible railways. Steve Siddall
SIR – I’ve discovered a new indicator. The closer Michael Deacon’s sketch is to the front page, the more serious the political situation is. Geoff Cullington