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Ferry frustrations help Jersey prepare for Brexit

Ferry frustrations help Jersey prepare for Brexit

Thursday 17 January 2019

Ferry frustrations help Jersey prepare for Brexit


Stormy weather and ferry glitches have actually helped Jersey to prepare for the travel and supermarket supply problems likely to result from a 'no deal' Brexit, the Chief Minister has said.

The view was shared by Director General of Home Affairs Julian Blazeby, who, together with Chief Minister John Le Fondré, yesterday took part in an emergency planning exercise, which involved acting out day one of a 'no deal' Brexit.

During the five-hour session, Ministers and senior government workers officials identified flights and ferry delays - problems that could create supply chain issues - as the key risks for Jersey arising from the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré explained the aim was to "really test" the plans that had been put in place since the EU Referendum, checking if "what everybody put down in theory does work in practice.”

At the end of the exercise, he told Express: "The general message is, yes, there are always gaps that you find, which is probably a good thing because at least you are finding them at the test stage which is definitely the best place to find it. But we seem to be very well prepared overall. The plans all work quite well."

One of the crucial areas explored was ensuring supply chains would not be disrupted.

The Chief Minister explained that supply issues would be more about delays and that the regular service would likely become patchy. "Patches of problems might occur over a period of three to six months or something along those lines but it’s not going to be for three months or six months... It might be a day here, a couple of days here, that’s the general view at the moment," he said.

Luckily, as Senator Le Fondré and Mr Blazeby observed, the island is "used to disruptions".

johnlefondrejlf.jpg

Pictured: The Chief Minister says that overall the island is well prepared for a no deal Brexit crisis.

"You can lose a day to a storm or technicalities on the boat and it’s that kind of territory we seem to be at the moment," the Chief Minister noted.

Mr Blazeby added: "The island is quite used to this. Over Christmas we had challenges with fog and with high winds and there were six days at one point where we didn’t get any ferries in. Islanders are used to managing reduced supplies or sometimes not the variety of opportunities in terms of goods on the shelf."

Nevertheless, States departments are working with Customs and Immigration, Ports of Jersey, Condor Ferries and airlines to put contingencies in place. They are also speaking to local and UK suppliers to make sure there will be enough goods and provisions on the island.

While he said officials were fairly "confident" in their plans, he added that nothing should be taken for granted. "It’s out of our hands in terms of day one No Deal Brexit but we are doing everything we can to make it as best as possible for Jersey."

Commodore Clipper Condor Ferries

Pictured: Ferry and air services are likely to become patchy in a case of a no deal Brexit.

In any case, Mr Blazeby said that islanders shouldn't need to have any immediate fears about Brexit.

"We hope there is a resolution in the next week or two," he said. "Our planning enables us to work through whatever happens. We continue to plan, plan, plan. We will plan for every eventuality so if there is a day one 'no deal', we will do everything we can to make sure Jersey is ok."

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