October 23, 2020

Brexit border infrastructure gets £705m boost

A lorry boards a cross channel ferry at the Port of Dover in Kent Image copyright PA Media

A funding package of £705m to boost infrastructure on Britain’s border with the EU has been announced by the government.

Plans include border control posts and 500 more Border Force personnel.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the move would help the UK “seize…opportunities” post-Brexit.

The funding follows a leaked letter from International Trade Secretary Liz Truss raising concerns about the readiness of Britain’s ports.

The UK left the EU on 31 January and is now in an 11-month transition period, during which existing trading rules and membership of the customs union and single market apply.

What the UK’s relationship with the EU will look like when the transition period ends will depend on whether a trade deal is reached.

Customs checks on EU goods will be delayed until July 2021.

The new funding will include up to £470m to build port and inland infrastructure, and £235m will be allocated for IT systems and staffing.

It comes after a leaked letter, first reported by Business Insider, suggested Ms Truss had expressed concerns about the government’s plans to phase in checks on EU goods coming into the UK after the Brexit transition period.

Ms Truss reportedly warned fellow ministers that failing to impose full border controls until July could see increased smuggling from the EU, lead to legal challenges at the World Trade Organization, and even weaken the union with Northern Ireland.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Jonathan Blake breaks down the next round of Brexit negotiations

The UK government has ruled out extending the transition period in order to reach a deal.

Mr Gove said: “With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705m will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.”