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From the editor: Abi Kay - Brexit offers a chance to think about where we are heading

In 2005, a UK travel company branded the third Monday in January ‘Blue Monday’ – the day of the year we are most likely to be depressed, with the festivities of Christmas a distant memory, high debt levels and our New Year’s resolutions out the window.

As I faced the prospect of two months stuck in the house and struggled to squeeze into my trousers for our news meeting this week, I could certainly relate.

 

But after visiting Morrisons to pick up some fruit and vegetables in a bid to fit back into my clothes, only to be faced with empty shelves, my thoughts turned to the lorry drivers who are transporting food to and from the UK.

 

According to reports, some truckers have been left stranded in Dover for more than three days.

 

The French requirement for all hauliers to be Covid-19 tested is certainly not helping matters, but newly-required Brexit paperwork is creating its own problems.

 

You can easily see how delays build up when you realise exporters risk having their loads rejected because forms have not been completed in the right colour ink, or one out of 17 pages has not been stamped.


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The question now is: are these issues just ‘teething problems’, as the Government has suggested, or will they have longer term consequences as buyers on the continent seek new suppliers? And the answer is: we do not know yet.

 

But, on this most depressing of weeks, we did have some good news from the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC). Tim Smith, the TAC’s chairman, has said the commission intends to recommend that all food imports meet domestic standards in future.

 

This might be trickier to achieve in practice than it is to call for in theory, but it is a potential game-changer in the standards debate.

 

Taking our first baby steps as a newly-independent country was never going to be easy, but at the very least, as Mr Smith says, Brexit has given us a unique opportunity to think about where we are headed.

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