Warn­ings of no-deal ports chaos are ‘mis­lead­ing’

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent By Anna Mikhailova

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

Aber­porth, Cardi­gan­shire

SIR – Will some­one please cut the long grass! Neville Jack­son

Carn­forth, Lan­cashire

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

Cam­bridge

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

Guild­ford, Sur­rey

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

Holt, Wilt­shire

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

Dorch­ester

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