UK Transport Minister Sees Country Armed For Hard Brexit

UK trucks waiting at the port of Dover, UK-EU border, on Dec 21, 2020. (AFP)

Despite kilometers of truck traffic jams, for Transport Minister Shapps, the handling of the new Corona restrictions shows that London is ready for a Brexit without an agreement.

The British Minister of Transport Grant Shapps is confident: his country's handling of the restrictions on trade in goods caused by the newly discovered Wuhan virus mutation is proof of the successful preparation of a no-deal Brexit. The measures taken for the end of the Brexit transition phase would now bear fruit, Shapps said in a press conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London. The number of trucks jammed on the freeway to the Dover ferry terminal was rapidly reduced from 500 to around 170. We're ready, stated Mr. Shapps.

France stopped all goods traffic from Great Britain on the English Channel on Sunday after the British government announced its findings about the new virus variant. According to Premier Johnson, goods should be resumed as soon as possible. However, he did not give a date.

According to initial findings by British scientists, the mutation of the coronavirus that is currently spreading in the south of England is said to be up to 70 percent more contagious than the previously known form. A new strain of the virus is spreading rapidly, especially in London and south-east England.

Many countries imposed entry bans on Sunday for travelers from the United Kingdom - but cases of the new mutation have already been detected in Australia, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark. Apart from Denmark, however, there were individual cases, informed the WHO virus expert Maria van Kerkhove in Geneva. According to the World Health Organization, the mutated variant of the virus has not yet gone out of control.

The EU and the UK are still vying for trade deals

The current spread of the new virus variant coincides with the end of the Brexit transition phase, in which Great Britain is still in the internal market and the customs union despite its exit from the EU. The UK and the EU have been trying to agree on a trade deal for several months, but talks are currently stalling. If there is no breakthrough by the turn of the year, tariffs and other trade barriers would have to be introduced.

The EU Parliament has already approved emergency plans for fishing and air traffic. Traffic chaos was also expected for the end of the Brexit transition phase, should an agreement not be reached in time.

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