The British Government Faces Pressure to Clarify Brexit Border Checks

The British government is under scrutiny to provide clarity on whether new Brexit border checks will still be implemented in October. Gareth Thomas, shadow trade minister for the Labour Party, criticized the government’s handling of the issue as “absolutely shambolic,” while business groups are requesting guidance about the planned changes.

Initially, the UK intended to introduce the first phase of the new post-Brexit border model in October, with additional stages to be implemented by 2024, involving increased checks on food and animal products from the European Union. However, the Financial Times reported earlier this month that the government would delay the rollout of the Target Operating Model (TOM) due to concerns that it would contribute to inflation.

Despite assurances from the Cabinet Office, the government department leading the plan, no guidance has been provided regarding the border regime. Labour’s Gareth Thomas criticized the lack of updates, emphasizing the negative impact of trade barriers on economic growth.

William Bain, a trade expert from the British Chambers of Commerce, expressed disappointment that the final version of the Border Target Operating Model had not been released yet, especially considering the upcoming introduction of export health certificates for inbound products to Great Britain.

Marco Forgione, the head of the Institute of Export & International Trade, stated that ongoing delays would prolong uncertainty for businesses involved in the import of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods to the UK. He also highlighted the disadvantage British businesses face compared to their EU competitors without the implementation of the border system.

Since the UK’s departure from the single market and customs union in 2021, the EU has imposed full border checks on British imports. In response to the pressure, a Cabinet Office official stated that the findings of the TOM consultation would be published imminently, while a government spokesperson acknowledged the valuable feedback and assured that the Border Target Operating Model would be published soon.

The governing Conservatives criticized Labour for lacking a plan and accused them of merely shouting from the sidelines with their focus on trade unions.