'Finally some truth': Brexit checks to cost UK firms £330million a year, Tories admit

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously delayed post-Brexit border checks for a fifth time <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously delayed post-Brexit border checks for a fifth time (Image: PA)

BORDER checks brought in after Brexit will cost UK businesses £330 million a year, the UK Government has admitted.

The figure – which a Tory minister claimed was actually a “saving” of £520m on the original plans – was disclosed in a letter to Labour MP and Labour Movement for Europe chair Stella Creasy.

The post-Brexit border checks were due to come in from October, but were delayed by the UK Government for a fifth time as it quietly admitted they would contribute to inflation.

Goods from Britain have faced EU controls since it left the bloc’s single market at the start of 2021, but the UK has repeatedly put off checks in the other direction.

READ MORE: Anti-Brexit protester kicked out of Tory conference

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, a Conservative baroness in the Lords and minister in the Cabinet Office, said in the letter first reported by the Financial Times: “It will depend greatly on how businesses adapt their business models and supply chains to integrate the new controls regimes.

“We estimate these new costs of the model at £330mn p.a [per annum] overall, across all EU imports.”

SNP MP Alyn Smith, his party’s Europe spokesperson at Westminster, said: “Finally, we have some truth from the UK Government over the devastating impact Brexit is having on Scottish businesses.

“The Tories' hard Brexit – which is now backed by both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats – is costing Scottish businesses hundreds of millions of pounds a year, which will then ultimately be passed onto the consumer and contribute to further price inflation not seen elsewhere in comparable countries.

“However, with both the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats refusing to consider re-joining the European Union, there is no end in sight for the misery businesses are currently facing.

“Leaving the EU has been an unmitigated disaster, and everyone knows it. However, by re-joining the EU and [the] world's largest single market, we could end the mountains of red tape and bureaucracy businesses are currently facing. “Only the SNP are offering that alternative through independence – and a return to economic prosperity.”

Neville-Rolfe (below) said the bulk of the cost would come from health certificates, and also claimed in her letter that the £330m figure represented a £520m saving on the hefty price tag which would have accompanied the Tory government’s original plans.

The National: Baroness Neville-Rolfe says 'Millions of dangerous machines' in homes in the UK
The National: Baroness Neville-Rolfe says 'Millions of dangerous machines' in homes in the UK

However, Creasy rejected the idea it was a “saving”, adding: “British companies struggling with border paperwork to import food will have little choice over these charges meaning it’s likely British consumers will have to pick up the bill.”

And Shane Brennan, the chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, told the Financial Times: “It is a shame that it has taken so long to just admit this candidly. What is not included in this original estimate is the cost of confusion, delayed deadlines and ongoing uncertainty.”

According to the revised timetable for post-Brexit border checks, starting from January 31, 2024, imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk non-animal origin food (and feed) from the EU will require health certification.

By April 30, 2024, these items will undergo documentary, identity, and physical checks, while imports of sanitary and phytosanitary goods from other parts of the world will adopt a new risk-based approach.

From October 31, 2024, safety and security declarations for EU imports will become mandatory, along with a more streamlined dataset for imports.