The FTA has given a guarded reaction to news that MPs have voted through Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020.

The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill was passed by a majority of 124, although it now goes on to further scrutiny in Parliament.

The bill would also ban an extension of the transition period - during which the UK is out of the EU but still follows many of its rules - past 2020.

Responding to the vote, Pauline Bastidon, the FTA’s head of European policy said: “FTA, the business organisation which speaks for the logistics industry, welcomes today’s [20 December] vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the House of Commons as encouraging news for the sector, but is warning its members that this is not the end of the process to protect the UK’s trading relationships with the EU.

"The process of ratification of the withdrawal agreement is not complete yet, and while the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on 31 January is now unlikely, there is tangible risk that the UK might leave the transition period at the end of 2020 without a free trade agreement in place, or with an agreement which does not deliver frictionless trade."

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Bastidon called on the government to "prioritise the smooth flow of goods and to focus on minimising frictions, red tape and costs" during the negotiations on the future relationship.

"Ensuring logistics is involved every step of the way, from the definition of the negotiating mandate to implementation of new rules is the best way of ensuring that the new trade and transport arrangements will work in practice and allow logistics to Keep Britain Trading," she said. "As the voice of logistics, we stand ready to do just this.

"Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK PLC."