M&S chairman reveals issues trucks have faced
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Speaking to Radio 4’s Today Programme, supermarket Chairman Archie Norman explained how ludicrous border check requirements on his company’s food imports to the Republic of Ireland are resulting in massive delays of up to 48-hours forcing the lorry’s to destroy 20 percent of all its products. The news comes as Mr Norman has demanded an urgent meeting with Chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost to discuss a way out of the protocol chaos which is destroying retail businesses with many complaining of entire shipments being turned away and destroyed by “pointless” EU enforcement simply because of having documents with the “wrong ink colour”.
He said: “Since January we have been exporting into the Republic of Ireland
“At the moment, only about 80 percent of our product is getting into Ireland, so 20 percent doesn’t arrive at all… And that applies to other retailers as well.
“It is not the rules of the customs union that is the problem, it is the Byzantine and pointless and honestly pettifogging enforcement which means that wagons can’t get through.
He went on to explain how trucks are even being turned away simply because of having just “one page” with the wrong ink colour.
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The Chairman said: “If one page is blue instead of black typeface the entire wagon is turned away!”
Mr Norman then went on to highlight the eye-watering number of documents required to enter Ireland with each lorry shipment.
He said: “Each wagon typically has about eight documents, 720 pages per truck, that’s three large three books! It’s about 40,000 pages per week!
“And to do that we are employing 13 full-time vets, they are not looking after animals or welfare, they are simply ticking boxes and filling out forms.”
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He added how products such as sandwiches are requiring three vets certificates and if the “typeface on one page is the wrong colour it is rejected.”
The M&S chairman explained: “Our error rate in this huge amount of documentation has been running at less than 0.00 percent but 40 percent of our wagons have been delayed!
“A delay means could be six hours but often 24-48 hours which means that most of the content of that wagon will have to be destroyed.”
He expressed major concerns similar chaos will be replicated in Northern when the grace period comes to an end at the end of September. He explained how checks are currently “very light touch” but feared chaos will erupt for M&S business in Northern Ireland from October if nothing is sorted.
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The chaos comes as Ireland’s European Affairs minister Thomas Byrne has demanded immediate action from the British Government to come up with a solution that brings an end to the chaos of the Northern Ireland protocol.
He also demanded that London sign up to an SPS agreement (vet checks on animals and food) that has been offered to them by the European Commission to solve the chaos, despite Britain turning this down as it would mean signing up to EU rules.
He told BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday: “We’re going to listen carefully to what the British Government have to say. We’re willing to discuss any creative solutions within the confines of the protocol.
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