Brexit chaos: UK in ’emergency mode’ as Boris Johnson told to speed up border preparation

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Brexit negotiations continue to progress tentatively between the UK and the European Union but major changes are expected to happen at the border whether a deal is struck or not. Boris Johnson and his Government have been urged to provide businesses and border operators more clarity and information about costs for them to prepare in a bid to avoid chaos from between Britain and the continent from January 1. Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier told talkRADIO: “There’s a lot of things that could be in a lorry queue that we could desperately need.

“I was talking to my local hospital the other asking, do you know what you might need and your supply chain.

“The Government has obviously got some plans in place for things like medicines but it still feels like we’re in emergency mode.”

The Hackney South and Shoreditch MP continued: “Really, by now there should be a clearer plan and also better contingency if things don’t go right.

“And the Government has already extended the deadline for things like compliance, delays in receipt of fees, and so on. 

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Whatever your view on Brexit, I don’t think anyone wants to see chaos at the border.

“But let’s be clear as well, politically this Government was the Brexit Government, it got elected with a Prime Minister boldly saying he had an oven-ready deal. Feels like that Turkey is rather cold at the moment.”

Ms Hillier insisted the committee remain bipartisan but most members shared concerns about the potential disruption the lack of adequate preparation could cause once thr transition period ends.

The Labour MP said most of the issues had remained the same since she and her colleagues began to look into the potential problems withdrawing from the EU could cause after the 2016 referendum.

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She added: “I’ve been looking at a lot of these issues for several years now, since shortly after the referendum.

“We’re concerned it’s a bit like groundhog day, we’re looking at some of the same issues around customs preparations, about businesses and how prepared they are about threats in the short crossings like the Dover crossing.

“I want to be clear that the committee is cross-party, we have a range of views on Brexit and always have done.

“So we’re looking at how effective and efficient the Government is being in implementing this. Until we have smoke coming out of the negotiations, we have no way of knowing if there will be a deal.”

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Despite the ongoing calls for more clarity about the future of the border with the continent, Michael Gove insisted on Tuesday the Government had provided businesses concerned with the necessary information to prepare.

He insisted claims suggesting businesses would require more details about the future relationship with the bloc were unnecessary as the changes expected to come in would remain the same whether a deal is ultimately struck or not.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove said: “I think it’s important to stress that, whether or not we get a free trade agreement with the European Union, we’re definitely leaving the customs union and the single market on December 31, come what may.

“A lot of what businesses need to do is the same whether we get a free trade agreement or not.

“No one is keener than I am in seeing this negotiating process conclude but nevertheless there are lots of things businesses have done and can do on a no-regrets basis.

“There’s no harm in doing those things because they will be necessary come what may.”

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