Leading trade associations have broadly welcomed the government’s Brexit White Paper but warned that it could amplify the nation’s skills shortage.

The FTA also has raised worries about a proposed permit system for HGVs crossing borders.

James Hookman, deputy chief executive, said: "The White Paper gives encouragement to those of us charged with keeping the UK's shops, schools, businesses and manufacturers stocked with the products and raw materials they need on a day by day basis.

However, the devil is always in the detail, and while FTA recognises the efforts made by the government to address the needs of the logistics industry in today's document, there is still much we need to understand on the practicalities for future trade.”

“Of most concern is a lack of clarity over how road transport will be able to operate in the future - a permits system is mentioned in passing, but is really not an option if the thousands of vehicle movements which currently happen to and from the Continent and Ireland are to continue with minimal delays.”

"The paper needs to provide more clarity on the status of skilled EU workers after Brexit - with more than 45,000 HGV drivers from Europe currently working in the UK, loss of their working status would leave the industry severely exposed.”

The United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) welcomed “some” of the content relating to plans for a facilitated customs arrangement.

Peter Ward, CEO, said: “It is pleasing that, unlike some other members of her party, Prime Minister May appears to be living in the real world and has listened to the needs of the business community.

"Since the referendum result was announced more than two years ago, UKWA has stressed the need to retain ‘frictionless trade’ with the EU and it appears from today’s document that the government is attempting to avert any major upheaval in the way goods are traded between the EU and the UK.”

However, the UKWA also has concerns over availability of workers.

“Representing an industry that relies heavily on the contribution of European workers, and already facing an acute labour shortage, it is disappointing for UKWA that the White Paper appears somewhat vague on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy.”