Reuters / Jerry Lampen
- The Dutch government has activated a no-deal Brexit customs plan which will see it hire hundreds of new customs agents to deal with new trade barriers after Brexit.
- Dutch finance minister, Menno Snel, said "divisions within the British Conservative Party" and "lack of clarity" from the UK government meant a no-deal Brexit is possible.
LONDON — The Dutch government has activated a 'hard Brexit' customs plan which will see it hire hundreds of new customs agents to deal with new trade barriers after Brexit, linking the decision to "divisions within the British Conservative Party" and a "remaining lack of clarity" from the UK.
A letter written by finance minister Menno Snel to fellow MPs, and seen by Sky News, said it had already paid for 50 new customs officers ahead of Brexit — as it takes up to two years to train a customs officer — and authorised the immediate recruitment and training of more.
The letter suggested a total of 930 customs officers would be required in the event of a "no deal" Brexit in order to police new trade barriers with Britain at Rotterdam, the huge Dutch port, and its airports.
Even if Britain secured a much-touted Canada-style free trade deal after a transition period, the letter suggested 750 extra customs agents would be required.
Snel wrote: "The divisions within the British Conservative Party and the remaining lack of clarity about the British input continue to impede the smooth running of the negotiations.
"It is therefore clear that the scenario that the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement and without a transitional period is still conceivable.
"The red lines of the UK for the future relationship with the EU (leaving the internal market and customs union) mean that the trade relationship cannot go much further than a trade agreement like the one the EU has concluded with Canada."
The Netherlands is the UK's third-largest trading partner when imports and exports are combined, and it stands to be among the worst-affected should Britain's trading relationship be radically altered after its EU exit.
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