A customs expert has warned that Britain’s borders are unprepared to deal the impacts of leaving the Brexit transition period.
Trade expert Dr Anna Jerzewska told MPs the UK faced serious challenges in securing its border when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and that customs officials ‘weren’t entirely sure’ on how to prepare for it.
Jerzewska appeared in front of a Brexit select committee when she said that no one ‘really knows’ what is going to happen on January 1.
‘We’re not ready, and we’re not entirely sure what we need to be ready for,’ she said.
She added: ‘In terms of border readiness, one of the issues is the fact that a lot of different actors need to be ready.’
‘HMRC need to be ready, Border Force needs to be ready, companies obviously need to be ready, as well as customs brokers and port authorities.’
Dr Jerzewska urged UK authorities to carry out more preparedness testing on its ports.
‘We also have a certain places where this readiness will pose more of an issue than in other places,’ she said. ‘So, we have rural ports, roll-on, roll-off ports where the readiness aspect is much more complicated that in other types of ports because of time constraints and lack of space.
‘There are special requirements these ports have and there is much more need for more prep and testing to be done by the UK authorities and port authorities.’
The government has ruled out seeking an extension while one cabinet minister warned that Brexit talks could not ‘go on forever’.
Brexit negotiations remain in deadlock after both parties failed to reach an agreement on important trade points such as the level playing field, state aid, and fisheries. The EU has accused British negotiators of ‘backtracking’ on earlier agreements.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has told officials that the ‘door is still open’ for the UK if it wanted an extension.