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No deal with WTO rules doesn’t go far enough, says logistics boss who wants trade to flow freely

PUBLISHED: 09:47 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:43 22 November 2018

Stephen Britt of Anchor Storage, Kenton.

Stephen Britt of Anchor Storage, Kenton.

Archant

If Suffolk logistics boss Stephen Britt had his way, the UK would simply open up its ports on March 30, 2019, and let the trade flow.

Stephen Britt of Anchor Storage, Kenton.Stephen Britt of Anchor Storage, Kenton.

To his mind, even World Trade Organisation rules are too cumbersome, and should be dropped in favour of a unilateral free trade option, with goods coming in subject to our rules on standards. Duty and VAT should be scrapped.

The pro-Brexiter, who heads up Anchor Storage at Debenham, believes non-EU trade, which comes through ports such as Felixstowe, would be largely unaffected by a ‘no deal’, with a few bumps, as long as we stick to the same tariff arrangements as now. Other ports, such as Ipswich, which trades in bulk goods, or Harwich, which hosts HGVs from Europe, would be, although he would advocate dropping the barriers on our side, and thinks pressure from EU HGV drivers stuck at ports here would help continental Europe to see sense.

“It’s only complicated because we are talking about halfway houses - if we just go the whole hog it’s simple,” he says.

Mr Britt, who has been involved in international trade for about 33 years, adds: “If I had a free choice I really, really would vote for ‘no deal’. I don’t want this deal honestly.”

There are many varied opinions within his sector, he says, but he berates the government for its ‘paucity of ambition’. Free trade deals await, he believes, away from the ‘protectionist cartel’ of the EU. While the channel trade will depend on attitudes on the continent, he predicts it will be “boom time” for the logistics sector looking beyond the EU. “It’ll open up the rest of the world to trade,” he says.

If prime minister Theresa May’s deal gets through, there will be no change for the sector, a prospect which he feels is disappointing.

“What’s the point of going into this if we are no better off?” he says.

He ‘gets’ the arguments about not accepting lower standards from imported goods, he says, and wants ‘mutual standard recognition’. “I totally get that and agree with it and I do not believe that we should go any way to reducing the standards of our imported goods,” he says.

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