A leaked document from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says lorries will only be able to move goods across the border if they have the correct reference from the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) – a new and untested IT platform that still hasn’t been given the green-light for release. Lorry drivers will be required to file the relevant customs paperwork electronically to receive the correct approval, but the Government could ban trucks who don’t have the correct clearance from reaching ports, although the HMRC document does not make clear how that will be enforced. Britain remains in the EU’s single market and customs union through the Brexit transition period, which ends on December 31, 2020, meaning goods can be moved across the border without having the relevant customs declarations in place.
But that will all change when Britain finally completes its departure from the EU on January 1, 2021, and customs declarations will be required on all imported and exported goods – regardless of whether the two sides agree a free-trade agreement.
The Government now faces a huge race against time to avoid any issues at the border with its biggest trading partner, with any potential delays for trucks triggering miles-long queues at ports such as Dover.
At Dover in particular, some 10,000 trucks arrive daily and currently drive straight out of the port without the need for documentary, but parking space there is limited, meaning it could be difficult to check paperwork at the dockside, thus the need for an electronic system.
HMRC said in a statement, which didn’t when or if the GVMS will be ready or tested before use: “We are regularly engaging with industry as plans develop, in particular with regard to a new IT system that will facilitate movement at the border.”
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Boris Johnson has given the EU three months to confirm a trade deal as negotiations are underway in Brussels.
The Prime Minister reportedly does not want talks to continue past September because it will leave businesses with little time to get ready for the end of the transition period in December. This comes as Downing Street confirmed that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator will take on his new position as Mr Johnson’s national security adviser at the end of August.
Although his role as negotiator will not be replaced, Mr Frost has said that Brexit talks will remain his top priority “until those negotiations have concluded”.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister indicated that the position could overlap but said this would be a short period of time.
They said: “Talks can’t go into the autumn.”
The spokesperson also highlighted how Mr Johnson does not want to be continuing with talks in October.
Brexiteers are preparing to celebrate another milestone in the process of quitting the EU tomorrow – with the end of the month marking any lingering possibility of an extension to the transition period beyond 2020.
In accordance with the Brexit withdrawal agreement thrashed out between the UK and EU last year, and enshrined in the EU Withdrawal Act, the deadline for a UK request to any further delay beyond the end of the year is July 1.
Pro-Brexit think tank the Bruges Group underlined their belief that an extension is now impossible, tweeting: “Well folks, it’s nearly the end of June, which means we did it.
“We pushed through the first half of the year without succumbing to the siren calls for a transition extension. Onward and Upward.”
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