News that post-Brexit border checks to be delayed for fifth time sparks backlash

‘What a shambles!’

New post-Brexit border health and safety checks on EU imports have been pushed back once again to avoid what the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) admits is a risk of serious disruption.

A report in the Financial Times informs how, just two weeks before the physical inspections were set to begin, the government said that ‘challenges’ within the process for registering imports of food and animal products may cause the levels of inspections that could overwhelm ports. In a bid to avoid such delays, the government said it would ensure the rate of checks were initially “set to zero for all commodity groups.”

“There is a potential for significant disruption on day one if all commodity codes are turned on at once,” said Defra in a report to port health authorities that was seen by the FT.

The government had promised to ‘phase in’ checks, after it announced new border controls on food and plants products in 2023. Trade groups have repeatedly warned that the checks will hurt small businesses and drive up the price of food.

This is the fifth time that the implementation of border controls has been postponed since 2021, due to fears they could cause disruption, and fuel price inflation further. It is unclear how long the border checks will be suspended for.

The news sparked a backlash online.

Mike Galsworthy, chair of the European Movement UK, said:

“Brexit border checks delayed again as will cause higher costs and disruption at the border.

“It’s almost as if they understand that actually doing Brexit… is bad. And our own exporters are disadvantaged by this limbo.” 

Edwin Hayward, author of Slaying Brexit Unicorns, shared his dismay, posting:

“Remember the incoming border checks coming in a couple of weeks? Well, they’re not. The Tories have soiled themselves on stage again. Because nothing’s ready they’ll start with the rate of checks set to zero, ie wave everything through. What a shambles!”

“8 YEARS after the Brexit vote and now, NOW they’re admitting it?” wrote Jason Hunter.

“It’s time to admit that Brexit is utterly unworkable,” was another comment.  

Someone else posted: “They’re leaving it for Lab to sort out. They know full well that to implement the border checks is to invite calamity, and with a GE just around the corner (?), the *last* thing the Tories need is another bleedin’ calamity…”

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