Yellowhammer report reiterates fear of no-deal Brexit supply chain disaster

London, UK. Ministers finally released the controversial Yellowhammer documents on Wednesday night which raise concerns yet again about temperature-sensitive goods, delays at ports and traffic gridlock.

The document, which says it outlines “reasonable worst case planning assumptions” for a no-deal Brexit, highlights the risk of border delays, given an estimate that up to 85% of lorries crossing the Channel might not be ready for a new French customs regime.

“The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold ‘unready’ HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40%-60% of current levels within one day as unready HGVs will fill the ports and block flow,” it warns.

This situation could last for up to three months, and disruption might last “significantly longer”, it adds, with lorries facing waits of between 1.5 days and 2.5 days to cross the border.

The reliance of medical supplies on cross-Channel routes “make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays”, the report says, with some medicines having such short shelf lives they cannot be stockpiled.

The government might not be able to calculate the full impact on the supply chain for food and agriculture, the report warned. “Certain types of fresh food supply will decrease,” it says. “There is a risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption.”

“A grisly crisis”

The Food and Drink Federation was quick to respond. Chief executive Ian Wright said: “It is as the Food and Drink Federation have been saying for the best part of two years now – it lays bare the grisly crisis facing the UK’s food and drink supply chain in a no-deal Brexit scenario.”

The Freight Transport Association says document shows there is still much that could go wrong and still has to be done to keep Britain trading effectively.

“Many of the details may seem trivial but are actually crucial to the successful protection and continuation of the UK’s supply chain, and industry needs key decisions to be made urgently to keep imports and exports moving efficiently”, the association said in a statement.

“Businesses can only prepare for and implement new processes once and still need confirmation of what they are to adopt in the way of new practices, while still maintaining existing trading relationships and keeping costs down.”

“We are still very concerned by the risk that fuel supplies could be impacted, considering this would affect the movement of goods both domestically and internationally – at no point in the past three years of negotiations has any indication of this nature been made to us or our 18,000 members by government.”

“The logistics industry is at the heart of the UK’s economy, impacting every individual and business.  The report shows that there is still significant detail to be clarified if Britain is to keep trading efficiently after Brexit.  Leaving the logistics industry still waiting for detail on trading arrangements after Brexit is to hinder the very businesses that will be relied upon to keep Britain trading through a costly and difficult No Deal Brexit.