Boris Johnson has all but confirmed that controls on imports of goods from Brexit Europe, which were due to come into force in July, will be postponed for the fourth time.
Experts have warned of a trade collapse if controls are introduced on July 1 at a time of rapidly rising prices and falling consumer confidence.
Now Mr Johnson has sent a strong signal that he will delay the introduction of “sanitary and phytosanitary” inspections of agri-food imports and plant products, saying he wants “minimal friction” at Britain’s joined-EU borders.
The Prime Minister appeared to indicate that he believed controls could be postponed indefinitely pending long-promised technological solutions.
While the EU was able to introduce controls on British exports entering the bloc of 27 after Brexit took effect in January last year, Britain was granted a “grace period” on imports from the mainland, which has been extended several times.
The deal gives EU companies exporting to the UK an automatic competitive advantage over their UK counterparts trying to sell goods the other way.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit Opportunities Secretary, has called for checks to be phased out entirely and Mr Johnson is being asked to decide on the next steps.
Amid warnings that the change will add around £1billion to the cost of trade, Mr Johnson was asked if he was prepared to order another delay.
He told reporters during his visit to India: “I am generally in favor of minimal friction at all stages between the UK and the EU. New technology will make some of the controls we have obsolete.
“That brings me to the long-term solution on the Northern Ireland-Republic border, but that’s another matter. »
said Shane Brennan, CEO of the Cold Chain Federation The Independent Earlier this month that the controls would be a “nightmare” for small businesses, warning of a possible “collapse” in their trade if they resume this summer.
Mr Brennan said the Brexit bureaucracy already imposed on small businesses trying to export has already resulted in a “dramatic fall in the amount of goods actually trying to leave the country”.
“Full SPS checks of our meat and dairy products — that’s the nightmare of moving goods across the food trade border, as they require veterinary certification… they require a potential inspection upon arrival at the port of entry,” he said.
“Reader. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Certified beer ninja. Devoted web maven. Subtly charming twitter scholar.”