Forget queues at the ports, our lorries won’t even make it out of the factory
Michael Gove’s warnings of two-day lorry queues at our ports describe just one part of the problem exporters will face on 31 December. After that date, every single consignment of meat or meat-based products, from steaks and sausages to beef curries and Hawaiian pizzas will need an Official Veterinarian to inspect it and sign an Export Health Certificate before it can leave the factory.
Problem is: Britain doesn’t have enough vets.
Until now, only a small fraction of total overseas consignments have needed a Vet inspection (those going to non-EU countries). After 31 December, every small, just-in-time mixed load of products to the EU will need one.
The Government has known about this since the Brexit vote in 2016 and yet, less than 100 days out from the end of the Transition Period, they still can’t tell us how they are going to resolve this.
Worse, Michael Gove in a leaked letter to industry bodies this week seems to be preparing to lay the blame with industry for not being properly prepared.
Nick Allen, Chief Executive of The British Meat Processors Association said: “We have been pressing the Government for three years now to lay out the details of exactly how these barriers to trade will be dealt with. They have known since the beginning that we will need an army of extra qualified vets to cope with the 500% increase in workload”.
Mr Allen added that “all the guidance in the world is useless if we are not able to complete required export paperwork because of a chronic shortage of vets. If this is not addressed, £175 million per month of meat exports will be at risk”.
“The bottom line is that British companies cannot prepare effectively for Brexit because the UK Government is not keeping to its side of the bargain by putting in place the right measures and resources and failing to give us the answers we desperately need”.