General uncertainty and fears over ports, Leader tells County Council, as our irresponsible Government fails to extend final Brexit deadline

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Councillor John Hart presented a depressing report to Council (see p. 11) about the effects of the rapidly nearing end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December. I had requested the report, and it became clear that despite the best efforts of the Council and its officers, they remain basically in the dark about what will happen when the UK leaves the European Single Market and Customs Union in less than 3 months time. Responding to my comments, Cllr Hart said there was particular concern about ports, i.e. Plymouth. It has been announced that a giant lorry park has been prepared – as in Kent, where drivers will have to get a permit to cross the county border!

I told the Council that it is utterly irresponsible of the Government to proceed with this Brexit disruption, not asking for an extension to the transition, when the economy has already been badly hit by the pandemic. The Council estimates an 8 per cent hit to Devon this year will rise to 10 per cent if there is no trade deal with the EU. The Government’s own estimates show continuing damage over many years. Cllr Hart no longer bothers with the previously obligatory talk about the ‘opportunities’ as well as risks of Brexit. It is clearly recognised that that will now fool no one.

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