Mrs May, who was speaking at Lancaster House six months after the referendum, confirmed the UK’s exit from the EU single market while also stating her intention to trigger Article 50.
And though she claimed that the UK wants to remain “the best friend” to its European partners, questions remain unanswered despite her setting out 12 key priorities for the negotiations.
One of them questions relates to the freight industry, which relies heavily on the existing trade route between the UK and European mainland.
Speaking after the speech, The British International Freight Association (BIFA) Director General Robert Keen said: “Freight forwarding executives are none the wiser on the actual mechanics of Britain’s future trading relationships and how they might affect the freight forwarding sector.
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“Our members across the country over the last few months have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty,” he added. “They would have welcomed clarity on the mechanics that will underpin Mrs May’s desire for ‘tariff-free and frictionless trade’.
“Today, Theresa May has promised to take Britain out of the EU single market and pledged to seek a ‘bold and ambitious’ trade agreement with the bloc. The prime minister said that she wanted ‘an ambitious customs agreement with the EU’ while rejecting the Customs Union because of the common external tariff that prevents Britain from negotiating separate trade deals with third countries.
“As we said last year, as Brexit unfolds, there will many issues affecting visible trade and the work of our members who facilitate that trade. After today’s speech, BIFA is hoping that the government has a fundamental understanding of all of the possible permutations and challenges in regards to our future trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world, post membership of the EU.
“Mrs May has made reference to maintaining the common travel arrangements between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but how will freight be managed between the two countries?
“What our members need from Government is some answers to those questions. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. And after today’s much anticipated speech, much of the real detail is missing.”
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