BORDER checks at the English Channel could be clogged up for up to a year after a No Deal Brexit, a damning report has warned.
A probe of the Government’s No Deal preparations by the National Audit Office said the flow of goods crossing the Channel would be reduced by up to 60 per cent.
It also warned that 3,000 lorries face being turned back every day under a No Deal.
And alarmingly it gave an ‘amber-red’ rating of plans to secure the flow of vital medicines into Britain.
The NAO report warned that organised criminals will quickly move to exploit any perceived weaknesses or gaps in the enforcement regime of post-Brexit border checks.
The report says there are 150,000 to 250,000 traders, estimated by HM Revenue & Customs, who would need to make a declaration for the first time in the event of no-deal.
The NAO said the Government’s reasonable worst-case planning assumptions state that the flow of goods across the short Channel crossings could initially be reduced to 45-65 per cent, taking up to 12 months to flow normally.
The watchdog found that despite efforts across Government, a “large proportion” of traders and businesses would not be ready for new customs and regulatory controls if the UK leaves without a deal and might not be able to access the support they require.
“Despite the Government’s actions, it has been unable to mitigate the most significant risks to the effective functioning of the UK border in the event of no-deal and the border would be ‘less than optimal’,” the report said.
The NAO said the UK Government has announced temporary arrangements for managing trade crossing the land border from Ireland to Northern Ireland, but it acknowledges these are “not likely to be sustainable”.
It added adding that there is still uncertainty about border arrangements that the Irish government would introduce.
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Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “Preparing the UK border for EU exit with or without a deal is extremely complex and has required a huge amount of work from many Government departments, agencies and third parties such as traders.
“Despite their efforts, significant risks remain which may have consequences for the public and businesses.
“Government will face new challenges in monitoring and responding to any disruption that may ensue following a no-deal exit, and will need to replace temporary measures with sustainable long-term solutions to ensure the border is fit for purpose.”
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