This morning, the House of Common’s Home Affairs’ Select Committee has released a report that says the UK Government has insufficient resources to deal with millions more customs’ checks that will be necessary when the UK leaves the EU Customs’ Union. Border Force staffing levels are too small to cope with both security & immigration checks and customs checks in many ports. Another after Brexit, there will be miles of lorry queues in Kent and gridlock in Northern Ireland.
The BMF highlighted that it is not just the large ports like Dover, Tilbury, Felixstowe, Harwich, Immingham, Hull, etc, on the east coast facing Europe where problems will occur. While Tilbury is important to timber importers & merchants, there is also the risk of delays at small ports like Shoreham (Sussex), Newport (South Wales) and Holyhead (North Wales) where timber also comes in.
Responding to today’s warning from the Home Select Committee that post-Brexit customs operations may lead to “border chaos”, John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the Builders Merchants Federation said:
“We welcome the Home Affairs Committee highlighting the very severe concerns business has about the ability of our customs operations to deliver in a post-Brexit environment.
“We agree that a failure to sort out a post-Brexit customs arrangement could led to lengthy and costly jams at all ports across the UK. This would be incredibly damaging to the building materials supply chain, and important construction projects.
“Builders merchants are already facing significant material price rises due to currency fluctuations and, from our engagement with government so far, we have concerns that proper consideration is not being given to other obstacles that may hamper trade.
“For essential building material supplies, such as timber, a failure from the Government to deliver a viable customs system could mean very severe delays, extra costs, administrative burdens and shortages that threaten the building of new homes that we so desperately needed”.