This leaked letter reveals UK fears its Brexit plans could cause border chaos with 7,000 trucks waiting in Dover


  • The UK faces highway queues of 7,000 trucks after the Brexit transition period ended in January.
  • Michael Gove included the worst-case warning in a stern letter to industry executives on Tuesday.
  • Gove, the British Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has warned that up to 70% of UK exporters risk not being ready to trade with the EU in less than four months.
  • Boris Johnson’s UK government is building fleets of trucks and preparing a traffic management system in anticipation of border delays from January 1.
  • A new report has warned that the economic impact of leaving the EU without a free trade agreement will be at least double the predicted impact of the coronavirus.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

A leaked letter reveals that Boris Johnson’s government fears his Brexit plans could cause chaos in UK ports with motorway queues of up to 7,000 trucks at the Dover-Calais border.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, has written to UK businesses warning that in the worst case scenario, up to 70% of UK truckers are at risk of being arrested when they reach the European Union due to not have the appropriate documents, if Britain leaves. the transitional period of Brexit without a trade deal.

The UK will abandon EU trade rules at the end of the year, which means there will be a series of new checks on goods to and from Britain and the continent at from January.

The Johnson government estimates that there will be over 400 million additional customs checks per year on goods moving between the UK and the EU and is building up to a dozen new fleets of trucks across the country to accommodate truckers who do not have the proper documents to cross the border. , including a handful in Kent County.

However, even with these mitigation efforts, the UK government expects there will be significant chaos when the Brexit transition period ends at the end of the year, suggests Gove’s letter to the industry disclosed to Bloomberg.

“The main potential cause of disruption is that traders are not ready for the checks implemented by EU member states on January 1, 2021,” Gove wrote. “It is essential that traders act now and prepare for new formalities. ”

His letter included an estimate that travel between Dover and Calais could be reduced by up to 80% from normal levels due to the failure of UK companies exporting to the EU to have the proper documents.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Johnson’s government revealed it was reviving a traffic management system called Operation Brock that it was preparing to leave the EU without a Brexit withdrawal deal. Under this system, one side of the motorway road to the border will be reserved for trucks heading to the EU via ports like Dover, while all other vehicles, traveling in both directions, will use the other side. from the highway.

A new report from Britain’s Changing Europe Think Tank released on Wednesday highlighted that there would be disruptions at Britain’s borders even if the UK concludes a free trade deal with the EU ahead of the end of the year, as the Johnson government pursues a “slim” that will require further customs and single market controls.

The UK faces food shortages if Johnson’s government fails to secure a free trade deal due to border delays, the report warns, and increased disruption and spending for Brits traveling to the EU.

Based on a model produced with the London School of Economics, the UK in a Changing Europe estimates that the long-term economic impact of leaving the EU without a free trade agreement will be at least the double the predicted impact of the coronavirus by the Bank of England.

DAN HIMBRECHTS / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

George Eustice, Britain’s environment secretary, appeared on Tuesday to blame any disruption in January in Brussels, telling British MPs: ‘We [the UK] can do all the work in the world to make sure our borders are ready … But if when they [truckers] getting to the other side is a bit creepy and disorganized and so there is chaos due to the EU’s failure to plan.

“This is something that is beyond our control. That would be our biggest concern. ”

However, UK business groups have repeatedly warned the government that small businesses are concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak and lack the bandwidth to prepare for friction with the biggest business partner in Great Britain. They are also still waiting for ministers to provide detailed information on how Britain’s borders work from January 1.

The UK government’s campaign to communicate information to the public about the end of the Brexit transition period – ‘Check, Change, Go’ – has been accused of ignoring the frictions business owners need to prepare for.

Last month, Maddy Thimont Jack, of the influential think tank Institute For Government, argued that the communications campaign risked “lulling people into a false sense of security” by focusing on the “sunny highlands” to leave. the EU rather than clearly explaining the many obligations it would entail for businesses.


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