Hammond warns MPs of Dover logjam in event of no-deal Brexit
BRITAIN’S most important trading artery to the EU could be clogged up for years by restrictive planning rules under a no-deal Brexit, the Chancellor has warned.
Dover would require significant new physical infrastructure if the UK left the EU without a deal and instead moved to a World Trade Organisation model, Philip Hammond said. This includes new lorry parks, buildings and equipment for staff checking new paperwork.
But getting planning permission to build this could take at least two years, which is longer than the envisaged transition period out of the EU.
“The significant things that would need to be done at Dover in the longer term if we were to end up with a WTOtype trading arrangement with the EU would involve some very significant infrastructure works that could not be done in a matter of months,” Mr Hammond told the Treasury select committee. “It would take years to complete. I would suggest, to be very frank with you, that the planning system might struggle to approve such significant infrastructure changes in two years, never mind get them built. I think it would take quite a lot longer.”
Almost two million vehicles carrying goods went through the port at Dover in the last financial year. Port operators have been in talks with HM Revenue and Customs on the procedural changes they would have to make, as well as the new software required to manage imports and exports under WTO rules.
The Chancellor told MPs the deal the Government struck with Brussels to leave the EU was the best way to deliver Brexit with minimal harm to the economy.
“The future success of our country depends on us executing the instruction of the British people in the referendum, leaving the EU, but doing so in a way which minimises the impact on our economy and maximises the opportunity we have in the future,” he said.
Under Theresa May’s Brexit deal, Mr Hammond said Britain would also keep much of its influence in financial services regulation by providing expertise to Brussels via a beefed up embassy.
He said it meant the UK would “avoid being caught in the rule-taking trap” of obeying EU regulations with no say in their making, he said.
“We haven’t achieved that influence because of our voting power, because we don’t have voting power. We have achieved that influence because of our expertise, our willingness to do the work and the excellence of the people we’ve deployed,” he said.
“We will continue to contribute to all of these debates which go on in the EU. We should not for one moment assume we will no longer seek to influence. I imagine we will have a very, very large and very active embassy in Brussels which will spend a great deal of time and effort seeking to make input to the debates going on in the EU.”