Retail leaders have welcomed the government’s intentions for the transition period after Brexit to last “as long as it takes” to avoid port chaos.

This week the government published proposals for how it wants the transition period to work, saying it should not be limited by a certain time period but instead whatever it took to “prepare and implement the new processes and new systems”.

Hard-line Brexiteers have urged the government to stick to a strict two-year deadline, but business leaders said it was vital the period, due to kick in from March 2019, gave them enough time to adapt. “We’re in complete agreement that the duration of the transition period should depend on the time it takes to prepare and implement the new trade and customs arrangements that will underpin the UK’s future relationship with the EU,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

In August, a BRC report warned of chaos at the port of Dover, which it said could lead to increases in food prices and more food waste, unless the UK could come up with systems to slash red tape and improve port facilities.

The report, which warns of product shortages across the board, claims short shelf life food was most at risk, with other concerns such as the capability of IT systems and the system for food safety checks having been highlighted.

Dickinson added: “It will take time to change the way the UK trades with Europe and we’ve been absolutely clear on the importance of agreeing customs and border controls that allow goods to continue to move uninterrupted between the UK and European markets. Disruption of any kind to supply, particularly to fresh and perishable food, will curb availability and add cost for consumers.”