Hardline Brexiteers have been attacked as “barmy” after drawing up plans for a squad of tax inspectors to roam Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the EU.
According to plans revealed by the Sun newspaper, the European Research Group of Brexiteers believe a hard border be avoided by something called ‘Inland Clearance’ which would see goods made for export subject to spot checks from officials in factories and at arrival destinations.
The plans have been drawn up by the group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, with Hans Maessen, the ex-president of the Dutch customs association.
Under the plans, the Brexiteers say customs officials would be able to check goods while they are still ‘on the premises of the importer/forwarder’ rather than on the border.
Under their ‘Alternative Chequers’ blueprint – originally due to be published this weekend but, according to weekend reports, delayed amid splits – companies would self-declare the tax they owe on goods crossing the border with the EU, as well as certify the standards and quality.
Then ‘mobile inspections teams’ alongside something described as ‘incidental inspections at the border’ would make sure the rules were being followed.
The plans were dismissed by Labour MP Gareth Thomas MP, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, who labelled them “barmy”.
He said: “It’s unlikely to convince either Irish ministers or Brussels and for some will have sinister overtones of a very troubled period in Northern Ireland’s past.
“This is yet further proof that the Brexiteers has never bothered to think through some of the big issues involved in leaving the EU.
“It’s also one more reason why everybody should have a say on whether to accept the final Brexit deal or stay in the EU.”
The European Research Group has insisted it still planned to publish its alternative vision to Theresa May’s Brussels deal.