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Border checks after Brexit could cost more than £1bn - report

Agnes Chambre

2 min read

Britain could suffer from massive border delays which could cost more than £1bn a year, a report on the post-Brexit customs system has revealed. 

The study from consulting firm Oxera said costs could result from motorway queues and job losses because of relocation. 

The company said even these warnings are “extremely conservative” and said the full cost could be “much higher”. 

It warned Brexit could mean “slow trade: low regulation [and] high enforcement”.

“Enforcement is either undertaken at the ports, or on a random checks basis,” the report, seen by The Observer said. 

“However, the number of staff involved increases substantially, and many consignments are subject to lengthy checks.

“We estimate the impact of such a scenario to be at least £1bn per year. This is an extremely conservative estimate – it does not account for the economic costs of the uncertainty involved, the extra staff needed (for hauliers, ports and customs officials), the congestion associated with calling Operation Stack , the land required for the additional customs checks, or of the wider economic impacts of jobs moving overseas due to uncertainty over the operation of just-in-time logistics. The full cost is likely to be much higher.”

There was also a stark warning about the new customs clearance system. 

“It was agreed well before the referendum was announced that the current HMRC customs clearance system, CHIEF, would be replaced in March 2019.

“It’s now due to be delivered just before we leave the EU and, having been planned to deliver 60m clearances per annum, it will now need to deliver 300m per year, with no understanding yet of what the customs deal with the EU looks like.”

Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, whose Dover constituency could be seriously affected by custom checks, said the report“underlines why we must take action now to ensure we are ready on day one for every eventuality”.

“With fellow MPs, I have been urging the Treasury to move faster in preparing our border for Brexit,” he said. 

“Especially to take on board that the border is a tax point – not a search point – and that with digital borders, customs clearance can be managed incredibly quickly. In Singapore, clearance takes less than a minute.”

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