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UK faces ‘catastrophic’ border chaos if customs are not fixed before Brexit 

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Lorry-loads of food will rot in traffic jams at the UK border after Brexit and hundreds of millions of shipments of other goods could be stranded in queues, if HM Revenue and Customs does not get the money it needs to beef up its declarations systems.

The number of declarations is set to rise from 55m per year to 255m when Britain leaves the EU and its single market.

But MPs have warned that the current systems in place to handle this traffic are incapable of managing such large amounts of work – and urgently need to be bolstered.

“Failure to have a viable customs system in place before the UK’s planned exit from the EU would wreak havoc for UK business, trade and our international reputation. Confidence would collapse amid the potentially catastrophic effects,” said Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

“HMRC is under considerable pressure to deliver the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in time, but it does not yet have funding to increase the capacity of CDS to deal with the consequences of Brexit – nor to develop contingency options. This is deeply worrying.”

The current system can be upgraded at a cost of £7.3m, but MPs said “we are surprised to hear that HMRC and HM Treasury (HMT) are still only ‘in conversation’” over the funding.



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