U.K. to Spend $890 Million on Post-Brexit Border Preparations

With less than six months until the U.K.’s transitional membership of the European Union single market ends, ministers have announced plans to spend 705 million pounds ($890 million) on new border infrastructure.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, in charge of the U.K.’s Brexit preparations, on Sunday insisted the U.K. would have everything in place for Jan. 1, 2021, when the existing temporary arrangement ends. The U.K. and EU have yet to agree on their future trading relationship.

A leaked letter from Trade Secretary Liz Truss last week set out her department’s concerns about the government’s post-Brexit border plans, including an increased risk of smuggling and a possible challenge from the World Trade Organization. Speaking to the BBC, Gove said there was no disagreement in government and it was time to “get cracking on implementation.”

Although Gove emphasized the “opportunities” he said would exist for U.K. businesses outside the EU, ministers are now preparing them for increased costs. A new government website offers advice on how to hire a business with a base inside the EU to handle the new customs bureaucracy that will be involved in moving goods across the English Channel.

The government’s new border arrangements will focus on smart infrastructure, Gove said, without elaborating further.

The government has purchased a 27-acre site about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the port of Dover for “holding” delayed goods vehicles, The Guardian reported Friday. “It’s not the intention to create a massive concrete lorry park,” Gove told the BBC.

The U.K.’s plans for its border with Ireland will be published later this month, according to Gove. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted there will be no checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, Gove said there would probably be “one or two rather simple processes.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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