The UK Needs a Brexit Deal, Not Chartered-In Ships, Says Shipping Group

Photo: Mr. Amarin Jitnathum / Shutterstock

The UK needs a Brexit deal, not chartered in ships, says the UK Chamber of Shipping after reports that Britain is looking at chartering ships to ferry in critical food and medicines in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit next March.

“It is not clear how Government chartering ships would really help,” said UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Bob Sanguinetti. “I don’t see how Government itself can move goods faster or more efficiently than the private sector, particularly as those goods will still need to go through the same customs procedures in ports – which is where the real problem would be.”

With just five months to go to the March deadline, chances of a no-deal Brexit are looking increasingly likely with Prime Minister Theresa May yet to reach a deal with the EU. 

“We must not sensationalise. We are a flexible industry and the shipping market can adapt to meet the needs of our national economy just as it always has done,” said Sanguinetti. 

“But neither the UK nor the EU should kid itself about just how difficult it will be to trade with one another in the event of a No-Deal Brexit.  No matter how hard the private sector tries to ensure goods can move quickly and efficiently, it has to operate within the law.

“This is why the drama needs to be taken out of the Brexit debate.  The UK has a huge variety of ports across the country and  the shipping industry will do everything necessary to keep trade moving as freely as possible in any event.  Whilst I continue to believe a No-Deal scenario will be avoided – such is the mess it will create in both the EU and the UK – the fact we are six months from the end of the Article 50 process with no deal in sight shows the importance of getting back around the negotiating table. 

“The onus is not merely on the UK to resolve this situation.  The EU says it wants to avoid a No-Deal Brexit but every time they reject a British proposal outright they make it more likely.  It is possible for the UK and EU to have an amicable separation, but neither side is doing itself any favours with this kind of brinkmanship,” Sanguinetti concluded.