UK Delays Post-Brexit Border Controls Once Again

The United Kingdom appears set to further postpone the introduction of post-Brexit border controls on food and fresh produce imports from the European Union

by Faruk Imamovic
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UK Delays Post-Brexit Border Controls Once Again
© Getty Images Europe/Christopher Furlong

The United Kingdom appears set to further postpone the introduction of post-Brexit border controls on food and fresh produce imports from the European Union, fuelling more uncertainties in an already complicated situation.

Border Delays: A Recurring Theme

Since parting ways with the EU's customs union and single market in January 2021, the UK has repeatedly delayed the onset of these checks, despite facing controls on its exports going to the EU.

Initially set to introduce its new phased import controls by 31 October 2024, the UK now seems to be pushing this to the following year. This decision, reported by The Financial Times, stems from concerns that the added bureaucracy might exacerbate the UK's inflation woes by inflating food prices.

Inflation's Stranglehold on UK's Economy

Currently hovering at 6.8%, down from June's 7.9%, the UK’s inflation rate has been the G7's highest for consecutive months. The Bank of England has attempted to stabilize the economy by repeatedly hiking its key interest rate.

Yet, the spectre of inflation looms large. When questioned about the reported delays, a government spokesman remained vague, stating they were "considering the valuable feedback" from businesses and stakeholders. They promised an announcement "soon" and reiterated the government's commitment to creating the "best border in the world."

Reactions and Implications

The continuous deferral has not gone unnoticed.

The leading opposition, the Labour party, has lambasted the government for the "tremendous uncertainty" these repeated delays have inflicted upon businesses. Labour’s spokesperson, Thomas, stated, "With the deadlines for new checks just months away, it is unacceptable that businesses have not received a clear update from the government." William Bain, a trade expert at the British Chambers of Commerce, echoed similar sentiments.

He mentioned that members "would have hoped to see the final version of the Border Target Operating Model by now." He emphasized the need for clarity well before the proposed introduction of health certificates for inbound products to Great Britain, slated for the end of October.

A Look Back

To provide some context, the UK decided to leave the European Union after the 2016 Brexit referendum and officially did so on 31 January 2020. The journey since then, filled with negotiations, adjustments, and uncertainties, continues to shape the country's economic and political landscape.

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