Goods to be waved through ports unchecked under a no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 15:56 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 04 February 2019

Lorries pass the Brexit-inspired mural by artist Banksy in Dover. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA.

Lorries pass the Brexit-inspired mural by artist Banksy in Dover. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Goods shipped to Britain from the EU will be waved through 20 UK ports unchecked following a no-deal Brexit in a bid to avoid huge jams, HMRC has declared.

In official advice released today, HM Revenue & Customs said that “for a temporary period” it would allow “most” shipments into the country before companies have even informed them they have arrived.

Exporters would have just over 24 hours to then fill in an online declaration.

The news comes just months after HMRC bosses warned the UK’s post-Brexit customs system would not function properly for two years following a no-deal Brexit.

HMRC chief John Thompson told MPs last year that the government would have to choose between keeping trade moving, ensuring security at the border or collecting revenues.

Hauliers had been calling for more guidance from HMRC and the government over how the customs system would work in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Today’s “updated guidance” says that anyone importing into the UK post-Brexit will have to fill out a customs form before checking goods onto a ferry or train on the EU side.

But it adds: “For a temporary period, HMRC will allow most goods moving from the listed roll-on roll-off locations to leave the UK port or train station before you’ve told us that the goods have arrived.”

Ferry operators and Eurotunnel have been told to have “reasonable belief” customers had made the correct customs declarations.

HMRC adds: “You can do this through your terms and conditions that your customers use when booking their transport.”

The ports the waiver will apply to are Dover, Felixstowe, Fishguard, Harwich, Heysham, Holyhead, Hull, Immingham, Killingholme, Liverpool, Newhaven, Pembroke, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Purfleet, Sheerness, Teesport, Tilbury and the Port of Tyne.

Labour MP Geraint Davies, a supporter of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said: “They said we would take back control of our borders but now the plan is to wave things through irrespective of our safety.

“We’ll have no idea what is coming into our ports.”

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