The SNP has attacked Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, for having no plan in place to ensure that international hauliers have access to the European single market that has “served logistics for nearly half a century”.

In a heated parliamentary debate on the impact of Brexit on the transport sector last week Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness and Nairn, accused Grayling of painting a picture of a post-Brexit future for road transport that did “not square with the facts of what is happening in the European market”.

“What access arrangements will be in place?” Hendry asked. "What is the plan for the millions of people connected with this industry? Will UK companies have access to a single European market, with no taxes or duties payable on goods?”

He said that there were “a lot of potential uncertainties for UK road haulage companies as a result of Brexit” singling out issues such as employment, drivers’ hours rules, access to markets and border controls and explained that transporting a lorry load of goods from London to Milan in 1988 required 88 separate documents; with the single market replacing them all “with a single piece of paper”.

Access for international hauliers to the single market and cabotage regulations is only governed by European Regulation 1072/09. On leaving the EU this will no longer apply and there is no alternative legislation to permit international transport.


Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport

Earlier in the debate Grayling said: “About 85% of the lorries operating between the United Kingdom and the continent belong to EU-owned businesses—international hauliers that are not based in this country.”

He said that member states of the EU and the United Kingdom have a common interest in reaching an agreement when it came to cabotage and single market access. He insisted that the UK needed sensible arrangements for the future to allow goods to flow freely from and to the United Kingdom.

“We need to give UK hauliers a fair chance to win business and to be successful. We shall focus on that during the negotiations, ensuring that we achieve the right outcome for the international hauliers that serve this country and for UK hauliers as well,” Grayling argued.

Hendry said: “The Secretary of State is trying to make an argument similar to that made during the Brexit campaign about how the EU has to buy cars made here because there is a bigger market for them. That does not square with the facts of what is happening in the European market. For example, what will happen when there is a shortage of drivers in the road haulage industry, as at the moment many of them are EU nationals, supplying our road transport network?

“We have not heard the plan, and I heard nothing in the Secretary of State’s remarks today to say that there was a plan in this regard,” he added.