LONDON (Reuters) – More than 20 shellfish trucks parked on roads near Number 10 Downing Street and the British parliament in central London on Monday to protest against post-Brexit bureaucracy that has stopped them exporting to the European Union.
Trucks with slogans such as “Brexit carnage” and “incompetent government destroying shellfish industry” parked just metres from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office. Police were asking the lorry drivers for details.
Many Scottish fishermen have not been able to export their stocks to Europe since the start of the year after the introduction of catch certificates, health checks and customs declarations added lengthy delays to their delivery times, prompting European buyers to reject them.
“We strongly feel the system could potentially collapse,” said Gary Hodgson, a director of Venture Seafoods, which exports live and processed crabs and lobsters to the EU and which has trucks parked near Downing Street.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to be honest with us, with himself and with the British public about the problems for the industry,” Hodgson told Reuters.
Hodgson said he had cancelled several lorries since December due to the onerous red tape involved with exporting to the EU. He said one operator needed 400 pages of export documentation last week to board a ferry to the EU.
Those participating in the protest said the British government needed to understand the severity of the problems they face and the impact on coastal communities.
They want a more workable system and say there is a shortage of customs agents on both sides of the Channel.
“Many fishing communities did vote to leave but I don’t think anyone who did anticipated being constrained by documentation and restrictions that have now been thrust upon us,” Hodgson said.
“We need to bring the country together now and find workable solutions to limit the damage to the economy and to protect jobs.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton
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