A leaked government document has laid bare plans to force lorry drivers into seeking the permission of tax authorities to cross into Europe after Brexit.
According to a Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) report obtained by Bloomberg, lorries and any other vehicles hauling goods will need permission from the department before shifting goods out of Britain and into Europe.
Under the plans, hauliers will need to submit customs paperwork electronically via yet untested IT system called the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) where they then receive a reference number allowing them to cross into Europe.
Those without permission, or who fail to apply, will be turned away before reaching a port. No details on how this would be enforced, however, were mentioned in the documents and HMRC has declined to comment on the matter.
This system will apply to vehicles leaving the UK from January 1, and on imports from Europe beginning in July 2021.
As the UK prepares to leave the EU single market and customs union by December 31, government departments have been scrambled to find ways to avoid cumbersome border checks at British ports. The GVMS is part of that response.
Bloomberg reports that under current rules, trucks are able to drive straight out of a port without the need for documentary checks. He highlighted that up to 10,000 lorries pass through Dover daily.
‘In sum, deal or no-deal, trucks will have to go through the headache of a new bureaucratic process, which relies on an IT system that is yet to be built, from a govt with a poor record on IT projects. Get it wrong, and the UK suffers economic pain,’ its journalist Joe Mayes tweeted, alongside slides from the leaked document.
Commenting on the report, Naomi Smith from the pro-European group Best for Britain, said it reveals ‘the government is its own worst enemy when it comes to levelling up the British economy’.
‘British exporters will be the biggest losers from this. Additional bureaucracy threatens to clog up our trade arteries, making many businesses unprofitable as they are required to make costly permanent changes to their operations.
‘Apart from the human cost of this disruption, firms that go bust as a result of increased border bureaucracy will have already swallowed a large amount of public funds.
‘That would mean wasting the money spent on keeping these businesses afloat, and as a consequence, putting out the embers of Britain’s economic recovery.’
Britain will need a functioning customs system whether or not it clenches a deal with the EU. Brussels officials have stressed they will not allow a truck to enter into the bloc without the correct declarations.