The Guardian reports that Eurotunnel has issued a stark warning that UK businesses and consumers will face serious economic costs if the government adopts either of the post-Brexit customs models being considered by Theresa May’s government.
They say that the intervention by the Channel tunnel operator, coupled with a claim by the company that the necessary technology to prevent delays at the borders may not be ready until several years after Brexit, will add to growing pressure on Theresa May to face down hardline Brexiters by keeping the UK inside the EU customs union. We can but hope:
With just weeks to go until the prime minister faces a series of crucial votes on Brexit in the House of Commons, the head of HM Revenue and Customs, Jon Thompson, sent shockwaves through Whitehall last week when he revealed that British companies would face an additional bill of around £20bn a year in extra bureaucracy if the so-called “max fac” border option, backed by the leading Brexiters Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, was adopted.
Eurotunnel, however, believes that while “max fac” would be the most costly for business and consumers, the other option – the “customs partnership” favoured by May, under which the UK would collect tariffs for Brussels – would also mean extra checks and bureaucracy.
Sources close to the company say they have been making the case to ministers for months that any change that causes hold-ups will seriously disrupt businesses on both sides of the Channel that rely on the assumption that goods can be delivered quickly and on time.
I saw the LBC radio phone-in host, James O’Brien at the Hay Festival yesterday who relayed the story of the van driver who called him to say that every time he takes goods into Switzerland he has to fill in a mountain of paperwork. The van driver argued that frictionless borders outside of a customs union are not possible and that Brexit will bankrupt him. It seems that Eurotunnel agree.