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UK unready for end of Brexit, warns Goods Committee

[ December 11, 2020   //   ]

The EU Goods Sub-Committee, chaired by Baroness Verma, has written to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove warning that the UK is not ready for the end of the transition period in 1 January.

It says that crucial IT systems to deal with customs declarations and accessing Kent are still in testing and may not be ready for the end of transition. Small businesses will struggle to access them, or the services of the customs brokers, who appear to be under-resourced.

The traffic management plan is vulnerable to closures, facilities for drivers stuck in queues are inadequate and animal welfare issues may arise for vehicles carrying livestock.

There is widespread uncertainty and the guidance provided by the Government has been complicated and unclear.

Baroness Verma, commented: “Our committee is very sceptical that the necessary physical customs infrastructure, both at ports and inland, will be ready. The Government has not prepared enough for the realities of moving goods across the Channel. It has been too optimistic and this has been reflected in weak and undeveloped contingency plans at every level.

“How aware businesses are of what they need to do to prepare for post-transition is the great unknown. This lack of awareness worries us because the smooth movement of goods requires every vehicle to have completed the necessary customs checks in advance.

“The welfare and safety of drivers, which must be top priority, has simply not been properly thought through. Has the Government actually considered how and where drivers, who may be stuck in long queues, will answer the call of nature, or take their legally required breaks?

“Disruption following the end of transition will threaten jobs and the flow of essential goods into the UK. The Government must get a grip of the situation and take the swift actions our letter recommends in order to mitigate disruption.”