Gadget lovers may not get their Christmas presents until almost Easter, as Dover is now overflowing with 24-hour queues and 2,000 more trucks than usual travel between the UK and Europe every day.
According to Apple, the Airpods, valued at £ 550, will be available next Tuesday. However, the earliest possible delivery date in the UK appears to be between March 16-30 – two days before Good Friday.
Currys PC World, Argos and Amazon all sold out PS5 consoles as many kitchen appliances such as kitchen machines, coffee makers, kettles, toasters and utensils didn’t ship until January.
It came as long lines of trucks snaked the roads to Dover and the Channel Tunnel through the night, exposing the disastrous rush to the nation’s ports to this day.
Emergency measures have been imposed on roads across Kent for the third consecutive year in an attempt to handle a tidal wave of trucks that is now believed to be 12,000 a day or more. And the scenes have been seen in other ports across the UK, including Felixstowe and Southampton, as well as ports in France where companies are racing for deliveries on time for Christmas.
The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) warned today that its members say the members are three weeks late from China.
Will Jones, chief operating officer, told The Times, “It’s fair to say that there will be people who don’t get products in time for Christmas Day.
“Consumer choices will be particularly limited when it comes to large-volume products such as kettles, toasters, coffee machines and kitchen utensils. Many power tools are offered as Christmas gifts, but I see availability may be limited. The delivery dates will be postponed to January and some to February. ”
The congestion at the container ports means that many carriers are switching to ferries and the Channel Tunnel to meet their delivery destinations. Around 2,000 additional trucks cross the Channel Tunnel every day, mostly to Great Britain, in addition to the 10,000 that have already been crossed in an average of 24 hours.
Apple has announced that its £ 550 Airpods can ship next Tuesday. However, the earliest possible delivery date in the UK appears to be between March 16-30. Amazon and many other retailers have sold out PS5s
Truck queuing for the port of Dover along the A20 in Kent late into the night as Dover TAP (Traffic Access Protocol) is implemented due to the high volume of freight traffic
Freight traffic picks up at the entrance to the Ferry Terminal in Dover, Kent as UK ports are congested due to delays in container traffic
The authorities in Kent were forced to implement the so-called Dover TAP, short for Traffic Access Protocol, in order to control the traffic level and the speed. Its purpose is to prevent port traffic from affecting local roads and the A20 through the city of Dover
Queues were lining up on the approach to the port of Dover yesterday as containers were switched to trucks to avoid the UK’s confused container ports such as Southampton and Felxistowe
Emergency measures have been imposed on roads across Kent for the third consecutive year in an attempt to handle a tidal wave of trucks that is now believed to be 12,000 a day or more
Trucks and other cargo vehicles are queuing up on the highway to the port of Dover today amid Brexit
Supermarkets like Tesco have been accused of worsening the situation as they store overseas dry goods and claim they need to prepare for Brexit as Covid-19 causes a crisis in container shipping.
But culture minister Oliver Dowden hit back today on dire predictions of no-deal chaos, saying Britain would “survive and thrive” without a trade deal with Brussels.
The gifts that may NOT arrive this Christmas: Delivery of Barbies, Scalextric and Peppa Pig toys is affected by delays after problems with Covid’s supply chain wreak havoc in UK ports
The UK is experiencing a shortage of Christmas gifts with chaos in the ports, which means deliveries of popular products like Barbies, Micro-Scalextric and Peppa Pig toys may not arrive before December 25th. Go-karts, scooters and Paw Patrol merchandise are among the other gifts for children in ports due to a global shipping crisis. Gifts like Apple Airpod headphones and Sony PS5 are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to supply chain issues from Covid-hit China, Vietnam and Japan
The UK is experiencing a shortage of Christmas gifts with chaos in the ports, meaning shipments of popular products such as Barbies, Micro-Scalextric and Peppa Pig toys may not arrive before December 25th.
Go-karts, scooters, and Paw Patrol merchandise are among the other kids’ gifts kept in ports due to a global shipping crisis, according to retailers today.
Must-have gifts like Apple Airpod headphones and Sony PS5s are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to supply chain issues from China, Vietnam, and Japan affected by Covid.
Gary Grant of The Entertainer, the UK’s largest independent toy retailer, said deliveries are now three weeks behind schedule and only 15 days to Christmas.
Meanwhile, Derek Crookes of the Toy Retailers Association said, “There is still inventory on the shelves, but some lines may be short of stock.
“Earlier Christmas, some toys ran out because they were very, very popular, but this year a lot of different lines are running out and could run out completely before new stocks hit in January.”
“Still, I think there is a significant possibility we can get this deal,” Dowden told Sky News. “We’re almost 90% of the way there.”
“There are these two areas that stand out that no sane British Prime Minister could accept,” said Dowden. “I would very much prefer if we had a deal and the Prime Minister would very much prefer a deal … but this deal cannot come at any cost.”
A surge in imports due to the pandemic, coupled with higher demand for imports around Christmas and inventory levels sparked by fears of a no-deal Brexit, have created shortages. And industry leaders fear that new customs controls in January – after the Brexit transition period is over – will exacerbate the crisis unless urgent action is taken.
The authorities in Kent were forced to implement the so-called Dover TAP, short for Traffic Access Protocol, in order to control the traffic level and the speed. Its purpose is to prevent port traffic from affecting local roads and the A20 through the city of Dover.
Household appliances and building materials are reportedly being held up by the congestion while automaker Honda has temporarily closed its Swindon plant due to difficulties in sourcing parts.
The UK Toy and Hobby Association recognizes that companies have “serious problems” when they source their inventory from ports in Felixstowe and Southampton.
It states: “Due to capacity and container shortages, toy manufacturers are facing a dramatic rise in freight prices, which has led to a three-fold and in some cases even a four-fold increase.
“The ships were diverted to Rotterdam due to an overload in Felixstowe and will now miss the Christmas season.”
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Transport eased the working time restrictions for drivers to clear the backlog in the ports. However, Adrian Jones, National Road Transport Officer at Unite, said drivers are being forced to work longer hours to deal with others’ mismanagement.
He said: “Relaxing driving lessons increase fatigue, which increases the risk of accidents for the driver himself and for all other road users.” Shadow Secretary for Business and Consumers Lucy Powell said: “Ministers need to wake up and listen to businesses … about the problems in ports and the risk of shortages.
“This disruption couldn’t come at a worse time of year as businesses rely on keeping their shelves in stock to take advantage of the all-important Christmas shopping season after months of really difficult conditions.”
Tesco has been accused of “grossly irresponsible scare tactics” and encouraging pre-Christmas panic buying after it was announced that it would have inventory in the event of a no-deal Brexit as Covid-19 stopped imports of Christmas gifts via the confused ports Britain’s strangled.
Britain’s largest retailer builds stores of durable foods like pasta and canned food and warns of months of fresh food shortages in 2021 as Boris Johnson struggles to find a way through blocking trade negotiations with Brussels.
John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, believes the average grocery bill could rise by five percent, and also claimed that French cheeses like Brie could be 40 percent more expensive if there wasn’t an EU trade deal in place. However, critics said there is plenty of British brie to eat and the UK is already importing 20 percent less cheese from abroad every year.
Mr. Allan, who stepped into the supermarket last year, said, “Tesco is preparing for the worst case scenario which is a no deal and is trying as much as possible to ensure that we have long life products in either in our warehouses or with our suppliers. We try to minimize the risk of food being caught in what is probably the most difficult place, the Port of Dover.
“We may have a shortage of fresh food, especially fresh, short-lived food. I think this will only be for a limited time, a month or two before we get back to normal. There may be only a slightly limited selection for a given time period. ”
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that Tesco was spreading panic among consumers over the UK’s exit from the EU, saying, “Bare closet horror stories are nonsense.” He also denied Mr Allan’s claims that food prices could rise by five percent across the board after January 1st, adding: “We only get 30 percent of food from the EU. Stocking up is a normal part of the business before tariffs are labeled “bumps along the road”.
Tesco’s dire predictions came amid the chaos in the global shipping industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic and rising demand for Christmas imports threatening the delivery of gifts.
Must-have gifts like Apple Airpod headphones and Sony PS5s are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to supply chain issues from China, Vietnam, and Japan. While children’s bikes and toys like Barbie dolls, Peppa Pig toys, and Paw Patrol merchandise are also affected, certain Lego sets are also more difficult to find due to supply issues and increased demand.
Gary Grant of The Entertainer, the UK’s largest independent toy retailer, said deliveries are now three weeks behind schedule and only 15 days to Christmas. While Derek Crookes of the Toy Retailers Association said, “There is still inventory on the shelves, but some lines may face shortages. Earlier Christmas, some toys ran out because they were very, very popular, but this year a lot of different lines are running out and could run out completely before new stocks hit in January. ‘
With Brexit looming, Tesco insists families could face food shortages next month if new customs controls lead to delays. But Mr Raab told LBC today that the delays in the ports are clearly caused by Covid rather than Brexit.
One reviewer said: “Does anyone else believe that Tesco is completely irresponsible in announcing that they are holding supplies? We will find empty supermarket shelves when there is absolutely no call for it. ‘Another said:’ Well done, Tesco is promoting the fact that there may be bottlenecks. What do you think the public will do now? Very irresponsible of you to cause panic buying but you know what you are doing don’t you? ‘One shopper said,’ Tesco is stocking up for fear of bottlenecks? … Just what they told everyone not to do when the lockdown started ‘.
According to Tesco boss John Allan, the supermarket stores groceries and fears bottlenecks if Boris Johnson fails to reach an agreement with the EU
A shopper noticed these rationing labels on essentials like diapers and pasta today at the Tesco store in Ely, Cambridgeshire, but the supermarket says they have been in operation since late September. They said while there are restrictions on baby wipes, diapers are not restricted and the sign was mistakenly placed on the shelf by staff
Buyers were dissatisfied with Tesco, accusing it of adding to fears of shortages that would lead to panic buying again
Three main problems causing delays in UK ports
Today’s problems in ports like Felixstowe, Southampton, London Gateway and Dover are caused by a number of problems that are occurring concurrently and are not unique to the UK.
A new truck booking system has been disrupting Felixstowe in the past few weeks, but trade organization Logistics UK downplayed the problem today, stating that the new regulations are “embedded”.
Industry insiders say that there are three main problems behind the chaos:
COVID – Lack of shipping containers
The system for shipping goods around the world stopped working properly when the economies closed and reopened at different times when they dealt with Covid.
This left shipping companies lagging behind when it came to fetching empty containers from European ports and bringing them back to factories in Asia.
The shortage of containers is exacerbated by the shortage of manpower across the global supply chain – including seafarers, shippers, and warehouse workers – due to illness or quarantine.
The problems caused by Covid have been exacerbated by an increase in demand caused by:
BREXIT – Customs and storage
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, tariffs will be applied to imported goods according to World Trade Organization rules at the end of the transition period.
Companies are therefore storing goods out of fear of having to pay customs duties or because they fear that new customs procedures after Brexit will delay imports.
Around Christmas, the demand for goods increases again and again, which exacerbates the problems.
Tesco has been accused of making a difficult situation worse as buyers said they did it now fired the gun at a new buying frenzy last seen when the UK left the EU in late 2019 and when the lockdown began in March.
Supermarkets have gone to great lengths to ensure families can get their favorite foods, but Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, has warned that some items could be unavailable for months.
The UK retail consortium announced in September that supermarkets without a trade deal would face an annual customs bill of £ 3.1 billion for food and beverages.
MailOnline asked all of the UK’s major supermarkets if they had supplies.
Fresh foods such as Parma ham, mozzarella and raspberries, which cannot be made in the UK, are most at risk as they cannot be stored in warehouses.
In a no-deal scenario, prices could also go up as import duties are passed on to buyers. For some articles, such as B. cheese, import duties of up to 40 pieces may apply.
Mr. Allan added, “If we leave on a no-deal basis, there will be tariffs and those tariffs will inevitably lead to higher prices.”
Desperate retailers, supermarkets and department stores are still waiting for their Christmas stock as the chaos in UK ports could seriously disrupt festive deliveries.
Customs delays in processing ships at Felixstowe and a number of other ports can lead to shortages of consumer goods – including toys – so some may not arrive until January.
A specialist Christmas products supplier complained last night that vital festive supplies were buried in a mountain of hundreds of containers.
There are also fears that food imports could rot as a result of the disruption, while supermarket companies claim the delays could cost enormous and drive prices up.
And there are concerns that the lack of imported parts will force factories to follow the example of automaker Honda and stop production.
The problems appear to be the result of a perfect storm caused by a combination of the effects of Covid-19 and stockpiling ahead of the December 31st Brexit deadline.
Will Britain be forced to swap fresh food for local alternatives in a no deal Brexit?
If the UK breaks out of the EU later this month, disruption is expected in the canal ports, where tons of food are shipped to the UK every day.
The nation produces huge amounts of food and drink each year – enough to supply the 66 million people who live here – but around 30 percent of what we eat is imported.
Many of people’s favorite foods and drinks come from across the continent – with shortages in fruits like avocados and bananas, vegetables like broccoli and tomatoes, and even the grains needed to make pizza dough.
Instead, expect to eat lots of eggs and drink gallons of milk, with peas and carrots on the side, according to research from Bloomberg.
While the news is bad for millennial avocado toast lovers, the changes could see Brits eating lobster over cod, which is being pushed back with Scottish single malt whiskey instead of EU wine.
Even tea and coffee could slowly come into the country when the borders are full.
Most imports come from the EU, with Irish meat, especially beef and sausages, being the largest single imports. Next up is French wine, followed by Danish pork and potatoes and vegetables from Holland and Belgium.
Today the Foreign Minister said there would be no food shortages or price increases.
Industry leaders fear that the introduction of new customs controls in the New Year will fuel the crisis without urgent action to remove the bottlenecks.
Some retailers say only one in five shipments arrived in September and October that reached the supply of scooters, Barbie dolls, and other toys before Christmas.
High street chains are reporting shortages of white goods like washing machines and fridges, while home builders are running out of supplies like power tools, screws, wood and roof tiles.
At the same time, shipping lines are charging UK importers massive “congestion charges”, in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds, due to the delays. This is to cover the dead time ships spend in ports rather than going back to sea.
Lars Mikael Jensen of the Maersk sea freight company said the delays in the UK ports were due to global problems.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “There are two main things. On the one hand, we are seeing a sharp increase in deliveries worldwide, especially from Asia.
‘This is both due to replenishment by many [western] Businesses and a backlog due to slowdowns in freight volume or freight movements in the second quarter.
‘So there is more cargo than usual in the system.
“And secondly, many ports are affected by coronavirus, which affects the number of employees.
“We also see that it takes longer for containers to be transported out of the terminal by carriers.”
Mr. Jensen believes the issue will last until next year.
“We have seen the crisis in Asia for a few months and we see it moving in 2021,” he said.
“But things are relaxing – it depends a lot on how long the increase in volume lasts.
“I’m pretty sure that with the spread of the Covid vaccine, there will be less disruption from truckers and dock workers affected by the coronavirus, so that in itself will help.”
Jensen said a worldwide shortage of shipping containers was responsible for many delays.
“Trade imbalances mean that many containers in Europe are returning to Asia,” he said.
Covid-19 has caused chaos around the world with containers in the wrong places, or loading and unloading takes longer. It hits many supply chains in the UK, especially from Asia
This glotech chart shows the top imports from Europe to the UK, with beef from Ireland and wine from France being the top ticket items
‘We ship every empty container we have in Europe [back to Asia] as fast as we can.
“But it takes a little longer for the importers to return the empty containers.
The British scooter company cannot bring containers into the British ports
Ian Batten, 42, of Brighton, owns Storm Buggies, which sell motorized quad and scooter vehicles for children.
The company supplies all of its goods from China for sale to retail and wholesale customers.
He told MailOnline, “Normally ocean freight takes about a month, but we see average delays of two to three weeks on top of that, but there’s still a lot in the air.
Einige dieser Bestellungen wurden bereits im Mai aufgegeben. Alles sollte bis Mitte Oktober oder spätestens Mitte November hier sein.
„Wir hoffen, dass wir den Großteil der Waren noch vor Weihnachten erhalten, aber einige Leute werden enttäuscht sein.
“Fast alle unsere Kunden haben wirklich verstanden – das hat uns sehr berührt.”
Herr Batten sagt, dass Sendungen, die in Southampton und Felixstowe ankommen sollten, beide gestört wurden.
“Wir haben zwei 40-Fuß-Container, die versucht haben, in Felixstowe einzudringen, aber sie konnten nicht hineinkommen und wurden umgeleitet”, sagte er.
‘Der Container steckt derzeit in Zeebrugge in Belgien fest. Das sind ungefähr 150 Fahrzeuge, alles High-End-Waren, alle zu Weihnachten verkauft.
“Das Southampton sollte letzte Woche fahren, es hatte sich bereits verzögert, dorthin zu gelangen.”
Herr Batten sagte, dass es neben Problemen in Häfen auch Probleme gab, genügend Spediteure zu finden, um die Waren abzuholen und in Lagerhäuser zu bringen.
„Vielleicht, weil ihre Lager voll sind, vielleicht aus anderen Gründen.
“Viele unserer Container stecken heute in Europa oder Nordamerika fest, und die Innenfracht wartet darauf, geleert zu werden.”
Honda ist der größte Hersteller, der vor ernsthaften Störungen durch die Krise warnt. Es gibt jedoch Befürchtungen, dass andere bald folgen könnten.
Gary Grant ist Gründer des Entertainer, Großbritanniens größtem unabhängigen Spielwarenhändler mit mehr als 170 Geschäften.
Die in Amersham ansässige Kette sieht sich mit Verzögerungen beim Import von Lagerbeständen aus China und Fernost konfrontiert, die dazu führen werden, dass einige beliebte Produkte vor Weihnachten nicht mehr auf Lager sind.
“Wir haben jetzt seit einem Monat Probleme damit, dass sich unsere Container zwischen einer Woche und zehn Tagen verzögern”, sagte er gegenüber MailOnline.
„Bis jetzt haben die Verzögerungen nicht das beeinflusst, was Sie in Geschäften sehen.
„Aber jetzt, wenn Container, die in dieser oder in der nächsten Woche kommen sollen, verspätet sind, werden wir vor Weihnachten anfangen, Spielzeugmangel zu sehen.
„In unseren Läden wird es nie kein Spielzeug mehr geben, aber wenn die Leute zu Weihnachten bestimmte Artikel wollen, wird das die Herausforderung sein. Vor allem, wenn sie ihr Spielzeug später kaufen lassen. ‘
Herr Grant sagte, das Geschäft habe besondere Probleme mit Barbies sowie mit Bastel- und Puzzleprodukten, die sich über die Sperrung stark verkauft hätten und daher bereits niedrige Lagerbestände hätten.
“Unser Angebot an Barbies ist viel enger, da es per Container aus China kommt und einige dieser Lieferungen sich verzögert haben”, sagte er.
‘Andere Bereiche, die das ganze Jahr über stark nachgefragt wurden, wie Spiele, Puzzles und Basteln, sind ebenfalls betroffen.
“Dies liegt daran, dass wir aufgrund der Nachfrage nach Sperrung bereits einen geringen Lagerbestand hatten. Verzögerungen bei der Ankunft von Containern bedeuten, dass diese nicht wieder aufgefüllt werden können.”
Herr Grant sagte, der Laden habe Probleme, Lego und Baby Yodas zu bekommen, aber dies sei eher auf einen Anstieg der Nachfrage als auf Probleme in Containerhäfen zurückzuführen.
Er fügte hinzu, dass der Entertainer nur online und im Geschäft Spielzeug verkaufte, das auf Lager war, damit die Kunden immer alle Bestellungen erhalten, die sie gemacht hatten.
Boldcube Scooters wartet auf vier Container mit 8.000 Rollern, die bereits als Geschenk bestellt wurden.
Ein Sprecher sagte: „Wie Sie sich vorstellen können, ist dies eine sehr frustrierende Erfahrung für uns und unsere Kunden, insbesondere da dieses Jahr ein COVID-Weihnachtsfest ist, wissen wir, dass es wichtiger denn je ist, ein stressfreies Weihnachtsfest mit Weihnachtsgeschenken unter dem Baum zu genießen Die Tage des Feierns als Familienzusammenführung.
‘Wir haben als wachsendes Unternehmen alles getan, um sicherzustellen, dass alle unsere Lagerbestände weit im Voraus bestellt werden, damit wir den Käufern ein nahtloses Erlebnis bieten können. Und halten Sie die Versandkosten so niedrig wie möglich, um Weihnachten erschwinglich zu halten. “
Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability beim British Retail Consortium (BRC), sagte: ‘Großbritannien steht derzeit vor großen Herausforderungen beim Versand vieler Waren aus Ländern auf der ganzen Welt, insbesondere aus Fernost wie China. Diese Probleme wurden durch die steigende Nachfrage von Einzelhändlern vor Weihnachten und dem Brexit verschärft, die durch die anhaltende Pandemie und die großen Lieferungen von PSA, die derzeit in britische Häfen gebracht werden, noch verstärkt wurde.
„Einzelhändler haben jetzt höhere Kosten als je zuvor. Einige verzeichnen einen Anstieg der Versandkosten um 25 Prozent gegenüber der Vorwoche.
‘Während diese Raten weiter steigen und die Störungen in den Häfen und in der Schifffahrt anhalten, stehen Einzelhändler vor großen Herausforderungen, wenn einige Artikel vor Weihnachten importiert werden.
“Einzelhändler machen Überstunden, um eingehende Fracht neu zu ordnen und umzuleiten, um sicherzustellen, dass Kunden die benötigten Artikel erhalten können. Einige Verzögerungen scheinen jedoch unvermeidlich.” High Street Stores haben Transportminister Grant Shapps gebeten, “alle möglichen Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, um den Stau zu beseitigen”.
A new lorry booking system has been causing disruption at Felixstowe (pictured) in recent weeks, but trade body Logistics UK played down this issue today, saying the new arrangements were ‘bedding in’
Dover overwhelmingly handles goods from Europe, while Southampton, Felixstowe and London Gateway mainly imports from Asia. Pictured are queues at Dover today (pictured)
Mr Opie said: ‘The last thing the public needs is disruption at the ports continuing into the new year at a time when Brexit will already put the Channel crossings under much greater pressure.’ The Food & Drink Federation said huge quantities of ambient food – sold in packets, jars and cans – are sitting in containers stranded at docks.
How ports chaos is hitting imports of goods from Brompton bikes to home heaters and LED lights
A range of companies are now struggling to import goods due to the chaos at British ports.
Brompton Bikes is struggling to keep up with huge demand for its bikes because of delays to imported components caused by a port being ‘clogged up’.
The company said 1.5 million components from Asia are ‘stuck on the water’, waiting to be offloaded at Felixstowe in Suffolk.
Components were stockpiled earlier this year, but they are now depleted and the firm said it is now operating ‘pretty much hand-to-mouth.’
Lorne Vary, chief financial and business development officer, said: ‘Demand for our bikes is off the scale, but we are unable to fulfil it simply because our supply chain is under so much pressure.
‘We have had container deliveries cancelled – and this is all before Brexit.’
Adam Russell, who imports home appliances for London-based One Retail Group, warned that is is now ‘near impossible’ to get goods out of China because fewer vessels than normal are sailing to the UK.
‘I’ve always been able to find a way to keep the business moving, but if I can’t find a way to move the goods into the country, then that’s when the business stops,’ he told the BBC.
‘We used to pay $2,000 (£1,500) to ship a 40-ft container to the UK, now we’re paying at least $8,000 up to $10,000 (£7,500).
‘Ultimately that means we’re going to have to stop importing or we’re going to have to pass that on to the consumer.’
Ian Enwin, from Ledlites Ltd in Welwyn Garden City, is facing delays importing LED lights from China.
‘It’s an absolute nightmare and very frustrating,’ he told MailOnline. ‘Our shipping costs have gone up from $1,000 (£750) a container to $5,000 (£3,700).
‘Vessels have been unable to dock and we are having products diverted to Europe, where ports are not as affected. I’ve never seen anything like it – and Brexit hasn’t even happened yet.’
Mansfield-based Hanson stone imports paving slabs from India but has been badly hit by import delays.
‘We’re a start-up company, we’ve only been running a year, we’ve had Covid to contend with, and now we’ve got this,’ said Ben Hanson, the company’s business manager.
Head of International Trade at the FDF, Dominic Goudie (correct) said: ‘Manufacturers are extremely concerned about the delays we are witnessing.
‘Our members are incurring costs totalling tens of thousands of pounds, and in some cases hundreds of thousands. In some cases it is directly impacting on the ability of businesses to build up stockpiles of products and ingredients ahead of the end of the (Brexit) transition period.’ The chairman of Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket, warned the problems were happening at the ‘worst possible time’.
John Allan said: ‘We can’t rule out the possibility that if there is dislocation at the ports of entry to the UK there will be some shortages of some items of fresh food, at least for a short time.
‘The nation’s supply chain for food will continue but there may be some things we have to learn to live without for a few weeks, possibly a few months..’ Piers Croke, the marketing chief at Christmas products company Gisela Graham, complained: ‘Right now, hundreds of desperate retailers have yet to receive their Christmas stock.
‘The reason? A mountain of containers awaiting clearance by Customs at the Port, with further containers arriving by the hundred daily.’ Alan Joseph, of The Cotswold Company, said his firm had not received some furniture stock. ‘It is very muddled. The congestion to the UK has reached a crescendo in the last couple of weeks,’ he said.
Adam Russell, who imports home appliances such as heaters and air conditioners, said the situation is ‘near impossible’.
Felixstowe handles some 40per cent of the UK’s container traffic. It is now feared that chaos could spread to smaller container ports such as Southampton, which was also disrupted last week due to bad weather, and London Gateway.
There are backlogs at the Channel Tunnel too with around 2,000 extra trucks are crossing daily through the tunnel, mostly in the direction of the UK. In Dover, queues stretched for miles up the M20 earlier this week, as traffic management systems were put in place to alleviate pressure on local car journeys.
Asked about the chaos in the House of Commons yesterday (Wed), Michael Gove, insisted these were part of a global problem, rather than being specific to Britain.
Two months ago, the former Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, was hired to advise Felixstowe’s parent company, Hutchison Ports Europe, on an annual salary of £100,000 a year for ‘around seven hours’ of work per week.
The problems stem from the fact global shipping schedules were disrupted during the early stages of the pandemic, with different economies reopening at different times. Thousands of containers are sitting at UK and European ports, which should have been processed, emptied and sent back to Asia to bring in more goods.
At the same time, British manufacturers have been trying to bring in extra parts and products as part of a stockpiling effort to combat border delays expected as a result of Brexit.
In a letter to Transport Secretary, the leaders of organisations such as the UK Major Ports Group, the UK Chamber of Shipping and Logistics UK wrote: ‘High volumes remain and could persist for some months, running into the period of the end of the EU transition, therefore challenges remain. The current situation has arisen in part from imbalances that accumulated over months. Reversing this accumulation is not an overnight task.’ The letter called on the Government not to be ‘complacent’, and called for it to provide ‘sensible flexibilities and easements’ around the movement of containers at ports and road haulage.
Tim Morris, boss of the Major Ports Group, said: ‘What the UK is experiencing is a global phenomenon. There is disruption in global supply chains the world over. We are reaping the whirlwind of an imbalance which has grown over some time.’ The Department for Transport said partners across the Government are working closely with the freight industry to resolve challenges in the global container system.
Boris Johnson sits in a car after arriving from Brussels at RAF Northolt near London in the early hours of this morning
Die Präsidentin der Europäischen Kommission, Ursula von der Leyen, spricht vor einem Treffen im EU-Hauptquartier in Brüssel mit dem britischen Premierminister Boris Johnson
What are the sticking points in the Brexit talks?
The UK has insisted that it regain control of its coastal waters from the end of the transition period.
However, the EU called for its fleets to maintain their previous access levels – with Emmanuel Macron under particular pressure from the French fishing industry.
First, the UK said it would reclaim 80 percent of EU quotas from January 1.
However, Brussels suggested restoring just 18 percent.
The two sides are believed to be near a “landing zone” that has a transition period of perhaps five or seven years. However, there is still no agreement.
LEVEL PLAY FIELD
The EU has insisted that the UK commit to a level playing field to ensure companies with lower environmental standards and regulations are not undercut.
State aid has emerged as a particular problem, especially as the coronavirus is making parts of the economy unprofitable.
However, the UK says it needs to regain sovereign powers to make rules, even though it has no plans to lower standards or distort competition by subsidizing the private sector.
It appeared that this area was close to being resolved last week before France reportedly put a number of additional conditions in place, including huge penalties for breaking the rules.
While the UK is happy with the “non-regression” – which means that current standards are accepted as a basis – it has rejected calls for future compliance with the bloc’s rules.
Getting a deal done and who decides whether to break rules has been a focus from the start.
The exemption from the European Court of Justice was one of the Brexiter’s greatest demands from the referendum.
However, the EU has tried to maintain control of governance and insist on harsh fines and punitive tariffs for violations.
The situation was inflamed by the dispute over the UK’s Single Market Act, which gives ministers the power to override the previous Brexit divorce terms to prevent deadlocks between the UK and Northern Ireland.
Critics say this demonstrated why enforcement mechanisms need to be effective – which is why ministers felt it was important to resolve the problem.
Britain is teetering on the brink of no deal Brexit today after Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen set a final deadline of Sunday for a breakthrough and warned that ‘very large’ gaps remain.
The Prime Minister and the EU chief spent more than three hours taking stock of the dire situation when they ate steamed turbot and scallops at the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels last night – the source of many skirmishes between British and French fishing boats.
But the pair could not find a way through the impasse that trade talks had left on the verge of collapse a year after Britain officially left the bloc.
Instead, they order Michel Barnier and Lord Frost to re-engage, provided that the plug is pulled if a solution is not found within four days. However, it is not clear whether they have received new policy instructions – which are seen as critical to postponing the deadlock.
Government sources confirmed that Lord Frost and Mr Barnier will resume post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels today in a bid to resolve the outstanding issues.
In a grim assessment, a No10 source said Mr Johnson did not want to leave ‘any route to a possible deal untested’. ‘The PM and Ursula von der Leyen had a frank discussion about the significant obstacles which remain in the negotiations,’ the source said.
‘Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged. The PM and Ms von der Leyen agreed to further discussions over the next few days between their negotiating teams.
‘The PM does not want to leave any route to a possible deal untested. The PM and Ms von der Leyen agreed that by Sunday a firm decision should be taken about the future of the talks.’
Ms von der Leyen said in a statement: ‘We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play on outstanding issues. We understand each other’s positions.
‘They remain far apart. The teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these issues. We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.’
Mr Barnier and Lord Frost have wrangled unsuccessfully for months over access to UK waters, level playing field rules and how to enforce the terms, and finally admitted earlier this week that they could not make any more progress.
Mr Johnson landed in RAF Northolt near London from Brussels shortly after midnight. He had set the tone for the showdown yesterday by telling MPs no prime minister could accept the demands the EU is making, which include obeying rules it makes in the future, as well as those currently in place.
In a bullishly optimistic performance at PMQs, Mr Johnson said the UK would ‘prosper mightily’ with or without an agreement – even thought the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has suggested the collapse of talks would knock two percent off GDP next year.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has warned that the long-term damage from falling back on World Trade Organisation terms would be worse than the economic hit from coronavirus.
Tory MPs urged Mr Johnson to stick to his guns, insisting his pledge to ‘take back control’ and put sovereignty first must not be sacrificed to get a deal. But Sir Keir Starmer accused the PM of bungling the negotiations, swiping: ‘Secure the deal, Prime Minister. You promised it.’
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick waded into the crisis last night, telling ITV’s Peston that while there had been ‘good discussion’ between the PM and Ms von der Leyen, there are still ‘very significant areas of disagreement’ and that had been ‘no clear movement in the right direction’.
The Housing Secretary said: ‘It sounds as if, from the conversations I’ve had with the Prime Minister’s team tonight, that there are still very significant areas of disagreement.
‘So I don’t want to give false hope, but he did conclude with Ursula von der Leyen that we should get the teams back together in the coming days and they will work hard to see if there is a way forward until Sunday.’
Asked if the UK was closer to a deal, he said: ‘I think there was a good discussion, but there was no clear movement in the right direction.’