Critics say HMRC plans to allow businesses to import from the EU with less paperwork mean officials won’t know what is coming in. Most EU goods will be waved through dozens of British ports to avoid any traffic delays if Britain leaves without a deal on 29 March.
Should Theresa May not secure a formal divorce agreement with the union, British businesses importing from the EU should have all goods subject to rest of the world checks, meaning they would have to give a full declaration and pay duty before they come over the border.
But in a bid to avoid huge traffic jams and delays, HMRC has announced transitional plans which will be in place for a year, where EU goods will be waved through as they are now. The simplified procedures will be in place for three to six months before HMRC reviews them.
Officials have promised to give a 12-month notice period to businesses for any changes made to the procedures within that time period. No-deal Brexit means Britain will trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms (WTO) which regulate global trade, with rules on import taxes and limits on the number of goods supplied to other countries.
However, this back-up plan by HMRC should prevent this from happening for UK businesses who need to import from the EU. It will mean businesses don’t have to make the full declarations for goods before they are released from customs control.
The plans are in place to avoid congestion, but critics say it means officials won’t know what is coming into Britain. There are 21 locations which will allow EU products to come through without additional checks, including Liverpool, Portsmouth, Hull, the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone, Pembury and Tyne.
Labour MP Geraint Davies 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.”