Older readers – particularly those that have travelled the highways and byways of the U.K. – may well remember ‘foreign’ lorries as we used to call them, travelling with blue T.I.R. plates displayed on the sealed doors of box vans and containers that had travelled from countries all over Europe. The T.I.R. system was founded in 1949 to facilitate trade and transport, first as an intergovernmental agreement among European countries who had fragile post war relationships and later, as we now say, a global convention that helped facilitate frictionless trade across borders.
At the same time vehicles entering one country from another were required to display national identification plates as agreed at the Geneva Convention 1948, the oval white plate black letters showing GB for example were once a familiar requirement on vehicles travelling to Europe. Now all this changed when we eventually, without being asked, joined the E.U. Brussels directed that all vehicle licences and number plates should be harmonised for, as they called it, ‘ever closer union,’ requiring that their design and format number plates should be used by all member states. This caused much consternation here as many drivers refused to use EU number plates.
Now I may be wrong, but I was given to understand that we had left membership of the E.U. this year. There seems to have been a little local difficulty with what Boris keeps telling us are our ‘friends and neighbours’ across the English Channel (which apparently according to our Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps is now call the ‘short straights’), with trucks and vehicles being delayed and various items confiscated as drivers have tried to import their lunch in the Netherlands (formally known as Holland to many people here) or by, according to mainstream media sources, ‘grinning’ customs officers in France refusing clearance and entry because a form has been incorrectly completed, or a container has been found to be overweight.
Why then has not the T.I.R. system been reintroduced or required for goods vehicles entering the United Kingdom? The system allows vehicles to be inspected at source and allows for delivery to four locations. All under ‘Customs Control’. If we are not now members of the E.U. why are E.U. registered vehicles allowed to enter the United Kingdom without being required to carry NATO-style country identification plates, as they are required to do so, when, for example, travelling to other non-member countries.
It’s not as if we now have full access to E.U. databases that have the registration details of all vehicles, is it? I mean how could that be allowed under E.U. and U.K. data protection laws, and hasn’t Boris told the E.U. ‘High Representative’ that diplomatic status will not be granted as the E.U. is a trading bloc and not a nation state?
Can we look forward then to all E.U. staff being designated ‘diplomats by their ‘home country’ and displaying their country-of-origin plates on their prestige vehicles if wanting the status of ‘Diplomatic Immunity,’ which basically allows holders to ignore protocols and laws of the host nation with ‘immunity.’
They could always, as their predecessors were apt to do, display C.D. or ‘ Corps Diplomatique’ plates on their vehicles. Trying to explain that to a civil enforcement officer or police officer these days should try their diplomatic patience to the limit.
It is all very confusing, but then this has been a confusing week. When not carrying stories about truck drivers’ sandwiches being confiscated at the ‘Dutch Border’ the media, both print and broadcast, have been beside themselves writing with undisguised glee about the exit of President Trump and the return to normality and decency with the inauguration of President Biden. Try as I might I saw little about the fact that Trump still had a 51 percent approval rating (which is higher than the new President’s) and at the election received more votes than any other President, but then like most things that occur in the United States, little is understood by the masses here who seem oblivious to the fact that their opinions are formed by political wannabes masquerading as broadcast and print journalists purveying the group speak of their own bubble and who never venture into the world of diverse opinion that actually exists away from social media sites and the well healed dinner tables of the media class living and working in, as we used to say, each other’s pockets inside the M25.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2.
Photo by Richard.Says A1(M) TRUCKS