Deal or No Deal UK will face ‘significant disruption’ when Brexit transition ends

Businesses will face “widespread disruption” at the border even if the Government does strike a post-Brexit trade deal.  The National Audit Office has warned there remains “significant uncertainty” that new systems will be ready despite GBP1.4bn being spent this year. The Whitehall spending watchdog said that preparations for new border controls – already rated “high risk” – had been further hampered by the pandemic. 

It comes after the Bank of England predicted 1% could be knocked off GDP at the start of next year – even if there is a trade deal.  Downing Street was forced to deny that the extension to the coronavirus furlough scheme was partly motivated by fears about the economic disruption of Brexit. The damning official report claimed that some of the uncertainty for traders could have been avoided if ministers had acted sooner.

With just two months to go until the transition period ends, key IT systems have yet to be tested and transit areas for lorries aren’t ready.

Meg Hillier said the government hadn’t given businesses the time to prepare

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Civil contingency plans to maintain the supply of medicines and other critical goods – were proving difficult as a result of coronavirus. Meg Hillier, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “The Government simply hasn’t given businesses enough time to prepare.”  The NAO also highlighted concerns about the checks needed for goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

There was a “high risk” traders would not be ready by the time the new arrangements kick in.  Ministers have admitted that up to 70% per cent of hauliers will not be ready and they face queues of up to 7,000 lorries at Channel crossings. In a sign of the uncertainty among businesses, the haulage industry warned it was not ready for a no-deal outcome.

Rod McKenzie, policy director of the Road Haulage Association, told a Scottish Parliament committee: “It’s been a shambles from beginning to end.

“The information we have is incomplete, inadequate and quite often totally incomprehensible.

“We feel we have been badly let down by the UK Government from beginning to end.” 

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