Permits required for the UK haulage sector under a no-deal Brexit could be allocated under a "lottery" style system, a new government paper has revealed.

Critics of the government's Brexit strategy have said the document providing guidance for UK-based hauliers operating in Europe - published by the Department for Transport (DfT) - is yet more evidence of Brexit "threatening absolute chaos".

Under the terms of the EU's single market, an unlimited number of hauliers can travel across the continent, but a no-deal scenario would require them to apply for permits - run by the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT).

The DfT paper states, however, that there are a "limited number" of these permits available for the UK haulage sector, including 984 annual permits and 2,832 one-month permits in 2019.

"DfT expects the number of applications for ECMT permits will exceed the number of permits available," the paper continues. "Therefore, criteria will be applied to permit applications to determine which applications will receive a permit."

The managing director of policy at the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Rod McKenzie, said that 38,000 hauliers in the UK trade with the continent, and there "simply aren't enough" permits to around.

He described the system of allocation proposed by the DfT as "unfair" and a process of "random selection".

Daniel Zeichner, a former shadow transport minister and Labour MP, who is a support of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: "This is yet another sector where Brexit is threatening absolute chaos. 

"If haulage permits become a lottery to get hold of, I don't think anyone will be thankful to have to wait longer for their new phone, or to find their supermarket delivery doesn't have half of the things they ordered in it because they're stuck in Calais."

DfT added in the paper, published on Monday, that they are "confident" a Brexit deal will be secured and are "seeking continued levels of access which do not require permits or transport checks at the border". 

It comes as officials from HMRC told a Commons committee that freight considered suspicious will be moved from ports to two new inland centres to be investigated in a no-deal scenario.

Karen Wheeler, director general border co-ordination at HMRC said: "There will continue to be security controls and checks on that freight to the same degree that there is today. That doesn't change, but there won't be additional customs controls happening at the border.

"What we are anticipating is that for the highest risk trade that comes through those routes they will be directed to inland facilities."

Border Force director general, the Home Office, Paul Lincoln said a similar centre already existed in the Midlands.

Explaining how suspicious freight would be handled, he said: "A logistics contractor will transport it to the inland clearance site at which then it will be unpacked and we will conduct the checks for security and other things as part of it. We will look for prohibited and restricted items like firearms or drugs."



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