RHA’s Richard Burnett responds to Lord Agnew’s ‘head in the sand’ comment 

13th October 2020

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett has reacted to Lord Agnew’s comment that businesses trading with the EU have their “head in the sand” over Brexit.

Commenting, he said “With 11 weeks to go until the transition period ends, Government are still saying ‘let’s wait and see what deal we get.’ This is creating even more confusion. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps himself has said ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best.’ What sort of message is that sending out?

“Regardless of the final result, the paperwork will still need to be completed. One of our major concerns is that despite hauliers having to provide the full service of customs declarations, based on current figures, there will be a significant shortfall of customs agents.”

Lord Agnew, a minister of state working on Brexit preparedness at the Treasury and HMRC, said too few companies were ready for the extra paperwork they will need to complete when Britain’s EU transition period ends on 31 December.

Richard Burnett continued: “It’s interesting that another of Lord Agnew’s concerns, that traders are not as ready as they should be, is a sentiment that we share, but for different reasons. Since the original vote to leave the EU was taken four years ago the RHA has been working tirelessly to establish how future processes and systems will work. But we are still in the dark and very little useful information has been forthcoming.” 

Concluding, Richard Burnett said “It’s clear that Lord Agnew doesn’t understand how the logistics industry works, who the experts are, or the market itself. He says that his department is simply asking businesses who trade with the EU to get ready. We, in turn, are simply asking Lord Agnew’s department to give businesses the clarity that they need to make that happen.”