Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has said that he tried to resist new customs checks that have been blamed for border disruption.
Frost said he was opposed to the checks on goods coming into Great Britain from the EU that started on 1 January but lost the “internal argument” in Whitehall.
He added that Britain could still cancel further SPS checks on food and animal products that are due to begin in July, reports the Times.
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His intervention follows the publication of the Public Accounts Committee report yesterday (Wednesday 9 February) that said Brexit has resulted in higher costs, more paperwork and border delays for businesses.
Frost, who quit as Brexit minister in December citing “concerns about the current direction of travel” in policy, urged the government to stop following the EU model and instead adopt “a light-touch border to the whole world”.
“We have to put up with EU controls. But we don’t have to replicate them ourselves,” he said.
“The EU believes in protectionism. We don’t and our controls should reflect our philosophy not theirs,” he added.
Not just EU
Commenting on Frost’s intervention, business leader and MP group the UK Trade and Business Commission said every developed country imposes “some form of checks on food entering its borders”.
The London Economic reports that other countries Britain has sought business opportunities with post-Brexit, such as New Zealand, Australia and the US, have “particularly tough checks on imported food”.
“Despite what Lord Frost is implying, the EU is not an outlier in this area,” it said.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today, John Donovan director of JJX Logistics in the West Midlands said that delays were particularly bad at Dover.
“We ship out of Hull, Portsmouth, Poole and there have been no delays there if your paperwork is correct,” he said.
Donaldson said one driver recently spent two-and-half hours at Sevington internal border facility before being stuck on the A20 in Kent into Dover for five hours and running out of driver hours, which resulted in more than two days of downtime.
Describing the paperwork burden as “horrendous”, he said hauliers were totally dependent on customers getting rules of origin right.
However, he added that the company had now never been busier.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the UK has fallen out of Germany’s top five trade partners with exports down 8.5%.
The German statistical office, Destatis, said UK imports fell in 2021, the first year since Brexit was agreed in late December 2020, to €32bn (£27bn).