BBC host blasted over bid to play down ‘smooth’ Brexit trade in radio clash with Shapps

Breakfast: Minchin grills Grant Shapps on food supplies

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said “busy times” may return to UK borders as firms get to grips with new paperwork after the exit from the EU single market. In a radio clash with BBC host Simon Jack, the Tory frontbencher said: “The Cabinet Office is working very closely with businesses. It’s not the case that goods are stopping flowing. I was studying, as I do by the hour at the moment, the flow at Kent and it’s been picking up every single day of this year so far and you’re seeing goods crossing the short straits and flowing perfectly smoothly so far.

“Not the 11 miles traffic jam we were told about.”

But he was pressed on whether pressures at the border will build because currently firms are avoiding it.

The BBC host said: “Well, that’s because, hang on a second, people not showing up at the border because they don’t think they can get across or fear that there’s going to be trouble is also a bad thing, isn’t it?

“And it also threatens the flow of trade and business groups I speak to say that at the moment a lot of people are avoiding the border altogether.

“The port of Dover’s volumes are half what they would normally be because of some of that reticence to go and to that.

“And actually, if we do start to build up as normal the pressure can only build.”

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Mr Shapps hit back: “It’s been a quieter start to the year, a lot of that’s to do with anticipations, so the stockpiling that’s going on.”

He added that the chaos seen last month while the post-Brexit transition period was still in place was due to the French closing the border because of concerns over the UK strain of coronavirus and was “nothing to do with the change of paperwork”.

“We may well see busy times again but actually at the moment the border is in fact flowing and it’s flowing very smoothly,” he said.

More to follow…

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