“A week is a long time in politics.” This has been attributed to British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the mid-1960s but regardless of who said it first, the words are probably even more relevant today that when they were first voiced.
The past week has brought about more government change than most of us will have seen in a lifetime.
We have a new Prime Minister and the battle for leadership of the Opposition has started in earnest.
At the end of June the British public took the momentous step of voting for the UK to leave the EU. Now that the decision has been made, it is now our job to establish the implications for our members in particular and the industry as a whole.
The PM has decided upon her new Cabinet. Many of the familiar faces with whom we have formed excellent working relationships have moved to other departments so much of our previous work will be passed on to new hands.
We were very pleased at the announcement of the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond. I understand that the RHA worked closely with him when he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport in 2010. He is also the MP for our Weybridge office and we were delighted when he accepted an invitation to visit the office for an exclusive interview with Roadway magazine when he took up his transport position.
Another familiar face is Chris Grayling. Again, the Association formed a good relationship with him during his time as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in 2005. The press team arranged for him to drive an HGV – an experience he thoroughly enjoyed. His familiarity with our industry will be another great advantage.
In effect, we will be starting from scratch. But this time, we’re not only telling the new administration what we as the UKs 5th largest sector do, we also, as a result of the Brexit vote, have a new government department dedicated to Brexit.
Until the day that the UK actually leaves the EU we will be spending a great deal of time in Whitehall to discuss the points of concern to our members to establish the extent of EU influence on each issue.
There are many issues of concern to our members including the Road Transport Directive on working time for mobile workers. This is widely seen as an example of the EU at its most misguided. We already have core rules that govern driving and rest time for drivers and this additional regulation has always been seen as unnecessary EU bureaucracy.
We have already approached the new Minister for Brexit with the request that we meet with him and his team at the earliest opportunity. This will be an extremely big ball and we want to get it rolling as quickly as we can.
Rest assured that our responses to all the issues on the table concerning the industry will be clear, consistent and in the long term interests of our members.