Britain faces a ‘blockade’ on cheese and meat products from Europe, under plans for new Brexit border checks, the Government has been warned.
Industry leaders have sounded the alarm over proposals to introduce border controls on goods arriving from the continent from the end of October.
Last month, ministers involved plans to finally introduce safety checks that have been delayed since Britain left the EU at the start of 2020.
Massive shock coming
Shane Brennan, the chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, warned the controls would make it much harder to bring some goods into the UK.
“We’re going to see EU-based cheese and meat suppliers finding on November 1 that they can’t fulfil their Christmas orders,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“It’s going to come as a massive shock to the system, and there will be paralysis as a result while everything has to reset.
“We’re not talking about shelves being empty. We’re talking about the choice being severely reduced, particularly in the first eight to 12 weeks.
“Some goods will not be available at all in the UK at first, and then they will be much more limited in supply and much more expensive.”
A step back to the 1950s
Mr Brennan called for a Government rethink, saying the need for veterinary checks was “a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem”.
“We’re putting our food supplies at the mercy of German Polish and Dutch vets, who have no interest in whether it gets to us or not,” he added.
“It’s a step back to the 1950s in terms of the types of the supply chain options we have, in terms of getting hold of goods from Europe.”
EU countries applied the full range of checks to goods arriving from Britain on the first day after Brexit, but the UK delayed reciprocating.
The planned border controls were postponed four times, most recently in April last year amid concerns they would worsen the cost of living crisis.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Brexit opportunities minister, has repeatedly argued in Cabinet that the UK should draw up a system with a much lighter touch.
But some sectors, notably the farming industry, have pushed hard for checks to be brought in on goods arriving from the EU.
Creating a ‘world-class’ frontier
After their initial plans for border controls were dismissed as unworkable, Whitehall officials came back with the new model last month.
They said it will save businesses £400 million a year, compared with the original plan, and create a “world-class” digital frontier.
But the new system was still expected to cost businesses £600 million more than the status quo and it will not be fully implemented for 18 months.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, a Cabinet Office minister, said when unveiling the model that it would ensure Britain has “the most effective border in the world”.
“We are protecting UK consumers and businesses, while using tech and data to remove burdens wherever possible,” she told them.
Britain is legally bound to introduce checks on EU goods under both the terms of the Brexit trade deal and World Trade Organisation rules.