As readers will be well aware, Remain-leaning news outlets have consistently prophesied (and continue to maintain) that Brexit will inevitably lead to ‘logjams’ at Dover and Calais. In the event, there has been relatively little disruption in the first few days after the UK’s departure. Indeed, some outlets in their quest for bad news have been forced to re-use photos from October.
Although the worst is (supposedly) yet to come as firms run down their stockpiles and demand picks up after the New Year lull, the consistent over-prediction of disruption and lack of trust in businesses’ understanding of new rules by civil servants and media pundits alike suggests that congestion is unlikely to be as apocalyptic as expected. Likewise there are strong incentives for the Port of Calais to ensure the rapid flow of goods, else trade be diverted to its competitors in Rotterdam, Zeebrugge or other Channel ports.
Nor should Britain be singled out here either – the Irish press similarly carried reports predicting that Dublin’s port would see ‘mayhem’ as a result of border disruption. The tendency to focus on (and criticise) the UK’s supposed difficulties by elements of its press is symptomatic of a wider myopia, ironically at its worst among Remain-leaning media outlets. These typically assume the worst of Britain while implicitly idealising the EU’s power and efficiency. This failure to appreciate the weaknesses of the EU and its member states which led so many to be surprised by the EU’s capitulation on several issues in the recent deal, such as the ECJ, cross-retaliation across sectors, international arbitration before the imposition of tariffs for infractions, full regulatory alignment, and so on.
In related news, reports that Ireland is attempting to send more traffic to the continent rather than through the UK should generally be welcomed, despite the problems the country might face ramping up port capacity at short notice. The UK derives little direct benefit from the use of its roads by Irish hauliers, and the convenience represented by the faster UK ‘landbridge’ will prevent the loss of the negotiating leverage which the landbridge provides in discussions of UK hauliers’ rights in Europe.