Brexit: Government warned to cooperate with Brussels to reduce port mayhem

Boris Johnson has ‘abandoned Brexit’ says Gerald Howarth

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Red tape caused by Brexit is harming Britain’s trade with the EU as the increased border checks that have been in place since the start of the year are hiking business costs and diminishing trade with the EU. According to official data from the ONS, Brexit along with the impact pandemic have meant that Britain’s trade with the EU has led to both imports and exports being exceptionally down compared to July 2018.

Imports have fallen by £3 billion while exports are £1.7 down compared to the July figures which was described as the last most stable time in UK trade.

According to ONS, in July, total exports of goods dropped sharply by £300 million due to a £900 million fall in exports to the EU.

Mere hours after Jacob Rees-Mogg was announced as minister for Brexit opportunities, the cross-party public account committee (PAC) warned in a new report of the danger that the situation could further decline in September.

The EU will be implementing more checks on the borders, and it is expected that the recovery from Covid will only increases the amount of traffic through UK ports which will add to the bottle-neck.

Dover is a key point of concern for PAC’s chair Meg Hillier who is urging upgrades to infrastructure and port systems.

This comes after mile-long queues of HGV’s have been regularly seen waiting to enter the critical port and with lorry drivers being warned to expect four-hour queues on the busiest days of the week.

She stated that the committee had “repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of changes to trading arrangements on businesses of all sizes, and we remain concerned.”

Executive director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage association, Rod McKenzie said that Brexit red-tape with border checks “mean friction where none existed”.

Lorry drivers are forced to stop on the A20 in order to keep Dover moving. This is part of the process to prevent a bottle-neck at the port however, this has already been carried out 20 times this year compared to 69 times in the entirety of 2021.

The report from PAC explained that “much remains to be done to introduce import controls, and in particular to ensure that traders and hauliers across the 27 EU member states are ready as the controls are phased in.”

Ms Hillier added: “One of the great promises of Brexit was freeing British businesses to give them the headroom to maximise their productivity and contribution to the economy – even more desperately needed now on the long road to recovery from the pandemic. Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays”.

She critiqued the Government of being overly optimistic given the current evidence as it declared it would create “the most effective border in the world” by 2025.

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Hillier described the claim as a “noteworthy ambition”, but “optimistic, given where things stand today.”

“The PAC has repeatedly reported on Brexit preparedness and at every step there have been delays to promised deadlines. It’s time the government was honest about the problems rather than overpromising.”

Officials at the Home Office are working with the French authorities on how the new controls will be implemented while preventing disruption for both HGVs and holidaymakers.

The PAC report stated that these discussions are “at an early stage”.

The Government is in talks with the EU partners to guarantee that the new border arrangements work.

However, the government intended to follow in the steps of the EU and ease in import controls, but was delayed multiple times in the past year and PAC officials refused to reassure people that “it would not do so again.”

UK Port equipment and border checks must be upgraded by September when the EU switches to biometric identity checks that force travellers to exit their vehicles.

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