London Until recently, Brexit spokesmen like Boris Johnson had denied that border controls would be necessary after leaving the EU. Thanks to new technology, the customs border should be invisible. The forwarders could do all the formalities online, it said.
However, the British Prime Minister is now starting to build new border facilities. As the Guardian newspaper first reported last weekend, the government bought an 11-hectare property on the M20 motorway near Ashford.
The area in the hinterland of the Dover ferry port is said to serve as parking for trucks waiting for their slot on the ferry. A customs clearance center is also to be built here. The site will be fenced off and cleared on Monday.
Cabinet Mayor Michael Gove announced on Sunday investments totaling £ 705 million for border infrastructure and IT. It was not the government’s intention to build a “huge concrete truck parking lot,” the Tory said in the BBC. After all, you want a “smart border”. But look at several locations for the new customs clearance.
The port of Dover is the bottleneck through which the majority of freight traffic rolls into the EU. Due to the location between the cliffs and the sea, there is no space for customs controls in the port itself. Therefore, it had long been expected that they would take place somewhere in the hinterland. However, the government had never given details – not least out of fear of the outcry of the population.
Border systems should be ready by December 31
The plans are now alarming residents and politicians in Kent, the “Garden of England”. They are “unfair to Ashford,” said Conservative Conservative MP Damian Green, the local newspaper Kentish Express.
“It could mean that several thousand trucks are parked here. This would be a significant disruption to the area, ”said Green, former vice president of Theresa May. According to Paul Bartlett, Conservative Ashford City Council, construction could take two years.
The border installations should actually be ready by December 31. Because then the transition period agreed with the EU ends: Great Britain leaves the European internal market and the customs union.
However, it is expected that the border preparations will not be completed by then. The government had recently admitted that customs controls on EU imports would initially be waived in January. Instead, the checks are to be gradually introduced by July 1, 2021.
Even on this date there are doubts. Minister of Commerce Liz Truss wrote a letter to Gove and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak this week that ports will not be ready in July 2021. The letter was released to the public on Wednesday via the “Business Insider”. The Brexit hardliner Truss apparently wanted to increase the pressure to speed up the preparations.
The government’s internal dispute is a steep step for the Labor opposition. There is “growing chaos and confusion” in the cabinet, said Rachel Reeves. British companies are alarmed that the government is “not entirely open” about the state of preparations at the border.
The government has not yet released any concrete details on future controls on the maritime border between Great Britain and the northern part of Northern Ireland. This will happen later in July, Gove told the BBC.
On the EU side, however, the preparations have already been completed. The most important ports, in Calais in France and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, are said to be ready for customs clearance of British goods.
The fact that a conservative British government is now building border facilities again is still causing a frown in Brussels. “Margaret Thatcher proudly declared in 1988 that the barriers to trade in Europe were falling,” tweeted MEP Guy Verhofstadt on Sunday. “In 2020, the same party will reinstate the obstacles. You can never take progress for granted. “
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