Our ports are already equipped to grasp the opportunities of Brexit

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Our ports are already equipped to grasp the opportunities of Brexit

Since the referendum, Brexit fatigue has set in as the minutiae of our withdrawal agreement are negotiated. Like many, I wish we could move on to our future relationship with the EU to ensure we are free to take advantage of the global opportunities available to the UK.

Brexit negotiations have become too complicated. Southampton is a major trading port and I am not alone in thinking much of the technology we need already exists. Last week I hosted the the foreign affairs committee on a visit to Southampton, so that they could see for themselves how the port operates.

They saw that we do not need to over complicate future arrangements to ensure our ports continue to operate smoothly. More than half the UK’s trade is with the rest of the world and the Port of Southampton is the UK’s number one export port, handling exports worth £40 billion every year. It is the UK’s number one automotive port and it is home to the nation’s second largest container terminal, not to mention the UK’s premier cruise port. Trade through the Port of Southampton flows smoothly and efficiently. And yet, 90 per cent of that trade is with countries outside the European Union.

The systems and technology are in place enabling the majority of goods from the rest of the world to be cleared on arrival in the UK, with public authorities able to identify consignments that need to be checked. This means only 1.3 per cent of consignments arriving from the rest of the world are physically stopped for inspection. Of these, four fifths are checked to enforce food and safety standards.

Since our own food and safety standards are likely to remain aligned with the EU at least for the short to medium term, the need to implement similar checks on EU imports when we leave the customs union has been overstated.

It will be for the government to make a judgement about the balance between implementing checks for fiscal and customs purposes versus guaranteeing the smooth flow of cargo.

The transport secretary has already indicated the paramount importance of the smooth flow of goods at ports like Dover, where almost all trade is with the EU.

I am confident that the UK can have a prosperous future outside the EU. There are enormous possibilities and leaving the customs union will not mean chaos at the nation’s ports. We need a basic free trade agreement for goods and services with the EU with freedom to control our own regulations and trade as an independent nation (like most of the world outside the EU), modelled on “best in class” deals worldwide such as Canada, South Korea and Japan. The legal text for such a deal is ready to go within DExEU.

The Brexit prize is ambitious. New and lucrative long term free trade deals with countries like China, India and the United States – as well as the Commonwealth are within our grasp. Full control of our borders with the end of free movement of people replaced with an efficient and balanced framework focused on our economic needs.

We can continue to argue about the result of the 2016 referendum or we can seize the opportunity Brexit gives us and once again become the independent global trading nation we know we can be.

By |2018-10-29T13:42:40+00:00October 29th, 2018|Uncategorised|3 Comments

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  1. John Davis 2nd November 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    Royston, your words make sense and I also am enthusiastic about having a prosperous future outside the EU and an arrangement such as “Canada +++” could be fine. But there’s a danger that despite apparent honest negotiations by the EU they could just continue to refuse to agree to points of detail so that we never achieve the goal. So we must have a strategy – like a trader defending himself by a stop-loss – effectively a time stop-loss.
    The other main point is that the “Chequers” plan does clearly not satisfy the result of the referendum, yet Theresa May stubbornly insists it does.
    I hope you will vote against any EU deal based on Chequers.

  2. Peter DAY 5th November 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    I agree with John Davis, Chequers is trying to be ‘all things to all men’, but is no good to either Leavers or Remainers, and is something that the EU does not like either. Besides to develop the computer system to deal with the new Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA) will take years. TM needs to ‘chuck Chequers’ and revert to her Lancaster House plan of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) like Canada ++, which is what the EU has already offered. The Northern Ireland ‘border’ is not an issue as neither the UK, Eire or the EU will impose it, so that should not be a barrier to going ahead with an FTA, which is the only plan that will deliver a genuine Brexit.

  3. Nigel Hecks 6th November 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Both responses are absolutely right. Why did the majority vote leave? Because we wanted to take back control, away from the unelected mandarins of the EU. Why, oh why, are we not pursuing the Lancaster House approach? As your recent visit to Southampton Docks exemplified, we can deal with import and export virtually seamlessly so why not go on that basis? If that results in no deal then so be it but it would be so much better of a deal could be concluded based on Lancaster House. Why vary that??

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