Minister puts British Army on alert to clear post-Brexit congestion
THE British Army has been put on standby to step in and deal with chaos at Britain's ports, ministers have told two influential Commons committees, reports London's Daily Telegraph
26 January 2021 - 19:00
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said his department had 'engaged' with the Ministry of Defence to prime the military.
Such intervention, detailed in a letter to Brendan MacNeil and Huw Merriman, who chairs the international trade and transport select committees, would be necessary 'should the situation at ports reach a sufficiently critical level and a clear role for military support emerge'.
'I must be clear that at this stage there is no immediate role for the military,' Mr Shapps said.
A crisis at Britain's container ports emerged in the run-up to Christmas as a toxic mix of problems sparked disruption within supply chains.
A global shortage of shipping containers was at the centre of the crisis, sparking fears of food rotting, shortages of vital supplies and Christmas gifts not arriving on time as the UK prepared to formally leave the EU.
Shipping prices have surged over the last year, with some containers costing importers up to US$8,000.
Prices for sending a TEU from China to Europe were just $730 in May when the virus caused international trade to collapse.
Mr Shapps said Department for Transport officials 'ramped up' monitoring of Britain's ports 'as it became clear that a surge in volume was leaving Asian ports'.
The department also worked with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to review requests from the warehousing sector for temporary storage. This has not been required, Mr Shapps said.
However, the Transport Secretary insisted that the private sector was better placed to deal with the crisis. 'I do not believe that the government would do a better job at allocating scarce capacity than organisations for which it is the bread and butter of their operations.'
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