UK still not ready for Brexit, parliamentary commission stresses
Saturday, 19 December 2020
A British parliamentary committee has expressed concern about the UK’s overall state of readiness for its withdrawal from the EU on 31 December, stressing disruptions expected at ports and repercussions for security.
“With just seven working days until the end of the transition period, significant concerns remain,” said Hilary Benn, a Labour parliamentarian who chairs the committee. “The government still cannot provide business, traders and citizens with certainty about what will happen in all the areas affected by the negotiations.”
Businesses that export to the EU will face more red tape, unfamiliar forms and added costs from 1 January, whether or not a free-trade deal is reached, Benn warned.
While acknowledging that there has been progress, the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union said it was worried about disruptions at ports. It is also worried that the security of the UK could be adversely affected by the fact that it will no longer have access to the European security forces’ databases.
The report stresses that the UK government needs to have “solid” emergency measures ready for 1 January 2021. Failing that, many people and businesses would be in for the worst possible start of the year at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has already made things difficult, Benn said.
He also noted that there was little time left for businesses to learn to use the customs declaration data system and insisted on the need to have people adequately trained in customs. If the right people are not in the right place at the right time, companies and traders will face a tough task, the Commission warned.
The report also referred to the difficulties surrounding the ports of Northern Ireland, the only British territory with a land border with an EU member – the Republic of Ireland – despite the fact that the EU and the UK recently reached agreement on the issue.