The courier boss who challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg on BREXIT explains why we need to stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market.
My name is Ciaran Donovan, and I have over a decade of hands-on knowledge in express and customs-free movements of commercial goods in and out of Europe.
This week I challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg live on the radio because he is making misleading claims about what leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union will mean for small business owners like me.
For the last twelve years I have established my own European Express Transport Business, mainly transporting for “just in time” supply chains.
This includes collecting components for the automotive industry all over Europe and delivering them to 24-hour production lines back in the UK.
Some of my customers include Ford in Dagenham and Bridgend, Jaguar Land Rover in the Midlands, BMW Mini in Oxford and Nissan in Sunderland, as well as Rolls-Royce on the south coast.
All these car makers rely on the express movements of goods to assist in the smooth operation of their production lines, as they do not have the space to stockpile.
Prompt collection is absolutely vital …
Most of the jobs I work on are only made possible by being inside the Single Market, which gives me access to the goods, whilst being in the Customs Union means no physical border to clear them.
Politicians like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Kate Hoey talk a lot about Switzerland being a possible model for how the UK could operate outside the EU and outside the Customs Union.
creates extra paperwork
Well I’ve got actual experience of delivering goods from the EU into Switzerland and there are huge amounts of checks and paperwork and costs and delays involved.
Believe me, it is very far from frictionless.
When I was delivering goods for an exhibition there, I had to get an invoice of the goods in advance from the client, pay an upfront cost (to be claimed back later), contact a customs agent at Dover to let him know what was I delivering, wait hours in a car park whilst the paperwork was being cleared, drive to Switzerland and then clear customs again at the Swiss border.
None of this is necessary if you’re in the Customs Union …
Norway is another model that sometimes gets brought up, even though Norway is in the Single Market which the UK Government wants to leave (although like Switzerland, Norway is not in the Customs Union).
Again, I’ve delivered goods across the Norway border and it’s not as straightforward as we are being told by the politicians.
Due to the nature of the goods I was delivering, I was advised to get a carnet – a passport for goods.
They vary in price but this one cost £750. It took my customer one week to compile the carnet, and EVERYTHING had to be listed.
If you get it wrong, the fines are big, even if it’s an honest mistake.
Once I arrived in Norway I was stopped by customs and told to park up while they check everything in my van against what was listed on the carnet, a process that took five hours.
I recently acquired a big contract with a major European customer to collect and deliver goods on an express service (usually overnight) from Paris to London and back twice a week.
This will only be made possible by the freedom of movement of commercial goods.
I really fear that this contract will be lost if we leave.
I know it’s not just about me
This is about the wider picture: we need to look after the interests of the UK as a whole, not just the wishes of a few who want to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market for their own benefit.
That’s why I support a People’s Vote on the final BREXIT deal , so that we can look at what’s actually on offer and decide if it’s in the best interests of the whole country.