Ham­mond warns MPs of Dover log­jam in event of no-deal Brexit

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Tim Wal­lace

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.”

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