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Chris Grayling tried to silence truckers in no-deal Brexit row



LONDON — The Road Haulage Association, a trade body which represents freight companies, said that the UK Transport Secretary Grayling threatened to freeze the group out of meetings after they issued a press release following a private briefing with the transport secretary last August.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said Grayling left him a voicemail message after the organisation issued a press release about the meeting.

Grayling said: “I’ve got to say how very disappointed I am.

“I had intended to involve you closely in the planning over the next few months, but issuing a press release straight after a meeting like that makes it much more difficult for me to do that.”

Burnett said he believed the transport secretary was “trying to silence an industry that’s trying to help government guide them.”

“My sense of that message was – either shut up or you don’t engage,” he said.

“You either play ball with us or you won’t be part of the negotiations on behalf of the industry.”

The Road Haulage Association acknowledges that discussions with the government continued after the voicemail message was sent.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The RHA has been heavily involved in our EU exit preparatory work and we will continue to involve them at every stage of our planning.

“It is extremely unfortunate when details of private conversations held in confidence are made public in a press release.”

The interview will be aired on a BBC Panorama programme on Monday evening which looks at how the UK would cope if it left the EU without a deal.

It also features an interview with Philip Rycroft, the civil servant who was in charge of Brexit planning until March, who said that no deal is “fraught with risks” and would be a “step into the unknown.”

“It’s not in the UK’s interest to have no-deal, it’s not in the EU’s interest to have a no-deal,” Rycroft said.

“The rational outcome over the next few months is to get a deal because that is overwhelmingly in the economic interest of both the EU and the UK.”

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the candidates to replace Theresa May as prime minister, have said they would be willing take the UK out of the EU with no deal.

Johnson has pledged to leave on October 31, the current deadline, and said leaving on time is “do or die.”

Conservative Party members will this week vote for one of the two candidates to become Conservative party leader and prime minister via postal ballot.

The winner of the contest will be announced in late July.

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