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Brexit damaging trade with EU, says public accounts committee

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theguardian.com

Brexit red tape has damaged Britain’s trade with the EU and the situation could worsen unless the government works with Brussels to reduce hold-ups at UK ports, parliament’s spending watchdog has said.Only hours after Jacob Rees-Mogg was appointed minister for Brexit opportunities, a report by the cross-party public accounts committee (PAC) said border checks in place since the beginning of the year had increased business costs and “suppressed” trade with the EU.The PAC said there was a risk that the situation would worsen in September, when stricter checks are implemented by the EU and a forecast post-Covid recovery in global trade increases traffic through UK ports.Urging ministers to upgrade port systems and infrastructure, especially at Dover, the committee’s chair, Meg Hillier, said it had “repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of changes to trading arrangements on businesses of all sizes, and we remain concerned”.The warning came after a haulage industry boss said lorry drivers may have to get used to queueing for four hours at Dover on busy days.

Mile-long queues of HGVs waiting to get into the crucial trade port have been a regular sight in the first weeks of 2022.Measures that force lorries to stop on the A20 to prevent Dover from becoming clogged have been implemented 20 times already this year, compared with 69 times in the whole of 2021.Rod McKenzie, executive director for policy and public affairs for the Road Haulage Association, said post-Brexit border checks “mean friction where none existed” and hauliers were becoming familiar with long delays at peak times.Under the terms of the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson in December 2020, the EU introduced full import controls in January 2022 after a

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