UK could 'throw open the borders' to avoid customs checks in event of no deal Brexit

Theresa May has been accused of planning to "throw open" Britain's borders after Brexit, by a cross-party group of pro-European MPs.

It comes after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said there won't be any border checks at Dover when Britain leaves the EU in March next year.

He said it would be "utterly unrealistic" to have checks and trade would be managed electronically.

The Open Britain group has written to the PM to demand clarification.

In their letter, the Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs, who campaign against a "hard Brexit", say: "It is extraordinary that a government that says it aims to 'take back control' now admits it is not even going to try to control the transfer of goods across our borders, in the event we leave the customs union.

"This has major implications for our businesses, our infrastructure and our trade."

Such a plan would not avoid a hard border "because the EU would have to enforce checks on goods entering its common market", the MPs say.

And, in the event of no trade deal being reached with the EU, "it would be in breach of WTO rules to apply no tariffs on EU goods whilst continuing to apply tariffs on goods from outside the EU".

The MPs also call for the government to make its post-Brexit border plans public after Sky News reported that companies have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements about briefings on the impact on freight traffic if there is no Brexit agreement as well as other possible scenarios.

The Department for Exiting the EU said while a trade deal was "by far and away the highest probability", it made sense to prepare for all possible outcomes.

Lorry going up ramp at Port of Dover

The UK currently has a free-flowing border in Kent where lorries travelling within the EU do not complete customs declarations and passport checks are minimal.

Researchers estimate it takes an average of about two minutes for each vehicle at Dover to be processed.

There have been warnings that if additional customs checks are imposed after the UK leaves on 29 March 2019, it will add about 10 miles to the queues at peak times for every additional minute's worth of checks.

A study by Imperial College London earlier this week found that two extra minutes of checks on vehicles could more than triple the existing queues, potentially leading to motorway tailbacks up to 29 miles long.

But Mr Grayling told BBC One's Question Time it was "absolutely clear" that this "cannot happen".

"We will maintain a free flowing border at Dover - we will not impose checks in the port. We don't check lorries now - we're not going to be checking lorries in Dover in the future.

"The only reason we would have queues at the border is if we put in place restrictions that created those queues - we are not going to do that."

The government has said leaving the EU will allow the UK to take back control of its borders.

The UK is set to the leave the customs union, but ministers are hoping to negotiate a new customs partnership with the EU as part of a transition arrangement likely to last about two years after the UK's official exit from the union next March.

Mr Grayling said goods moved seamlessly across national borders elsewhere in the world and there was no reason this would not happen after Brexit.

"Go to our ports on the east coast that take goods from outside the European Union where goods... depart pretty much as soon as they arrive. That is what is going to happen.

"We will manage trade electronically. Trucks will move through the border without stopping. We will manage them electronically. In the way it happens between Canada and the US."

Labour said a new customs union with the EU was the only way to avoid "gridlock" at British ports.

Lorries wait to board a ferry at the port of Dover

"Chris Grayling let the cat out of the bag by exposing how unprepared the government are for leaving the EU," said shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald.

"The government said leaving the EU is about regaining control of our borders but the transport secretary's plan would achieve the exact opposite."

He warned of chaos unless the UK was able to negotiate a new arrangement replicating all the benefits of the existing customs union, which removes tariffs and other trade barriers between its members.

Under the terms of the Le Touquet agreement, in which juxtaposed border and immigration controls are in force on either side of the Channel, France has the power to carry out checks on outbound vehicles at Dover.

When France increased security checks in the summer of 2016, in the wake of a series of terror attacks in the country, it led to days of lengthy queues on the roads approaching the port as staff shortages meant checks on passenger coaches were taking 40 minutes.


New car tax rules coming in next month could cost you an extra £500

New car tax rules coming in next month could hit drivers hard.

The changes, intended to reduce emissions, could end up costing drivers of diesel vehicles up to £500 more.

The new rules announced in the Autumn Budget last year are coming into force in April, and mean there are new rules around Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) bands.

They will particularly target diesel cars that fail to meet tough standards.

Diesel cars that issue an excessive level of pollution, as measured against the Euro 6 emission standards, will pay extra tax, which can be anything from £15 to £500 in the first year, reports The Mirror.

Car tax rules are changing in 2018

STAY AT HOME UK weather Snow-hit commuters told ‘only travel if necessary’ as mini beast from the east sparks chaos on roads and rail

           The Met Office has issued an amber warning for the south west of England and has warned of a "risk to life" as parts of the UK face 40cm of snowfall today.

The second wave of Siberian chill is expected to send temperatures plummeting to as low as -10C and has led to people in rural areas being warned they may be cut off.

British Gas warned the chill could spark 20,000 emergency calls a day as pipes froze and burst overnight.

More than 80 people had to be rescued from their cars and spent the night sheltering at a school in Dartmoor after heavy snow closed a 64-mile stretch of road connecting Devon and Cornwall.

Police said the A30 was hit by "significant snow" overnight with conditions "changing rapidly from passable to impossible".

 A lorry struggled to stay on the road in the icy conditions

Commuters in the south west also face travel misery on the trains this morning after Great Western Railway said train services would be disrupted due to severe weather.

Devon County Council has confirmed the closure of dozens of schools today and described roads as "treacherous".

Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted: "Further snow expected into the early hours of Monday. Police and partner agencies continue to work hard to keep roads open and people safe.

"Drivers are warned to expect snow and icy conditions on morning commute. Only travel if you have to and leave extra time for your journey.

Amber warnings were issued overnight with more snow expected to hit southwest and parts of South Wales later today.

Some places are likely to see up to 40cm of snow, while it could feel as chilly as minus 10C in parts.

 Brits battled bitterly cold temperatures this morning as the second wave of Siberian weather takes its toll

Met Office forecaster Becky Mitchell said: "Last night the main risk was disruptive snowfall across south west England. We have issued an amber weather warning into the early hours of this morning.

"Today we could see 5cm perhaps at lower levels, and by the end of the night we could see 30-40cm in places across Dartmoor and Exmoor, and generally over higher ground."

Ms Mitchell said there will be "really tricky" travelling conditions as snow begins to drift.

Over the weekend more than 10,000 frustrated travellers were left stranded after 146 services were cancelled in and out of Heathrow Airport due to the wintry weather.

While those catching flights were left stranded, rail commuters have also been told to prepare for the worst.

National Rail warned of possible changes to services run by Arriva Trains Wales, Great Western Railway, Heathrow Connect, Heathrow Express, Hull Trains, Northern and South Western Railway.

 Cars sit covered in snow in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, after overnight snow blankets the area

Arnold Clark aims to fill 300 apprenticeship vacancies with ‘free’ promotional lorry

Arnold Clark will aim to fill the companies 300 vacancies for new apprentices by visiting schools and colleges.

Launched last week at the Glasgow Science Centre, schools and colleges can apply to book the truck for free.

Features include:

  • An exhibition space complete with TVs and iPads with simulated games and quizzes.
  • Six interactive boards which can be used to try out some of the skills learned in different apprenticeships.
  • A seating area with tablets to access the Arnold Clark website where they can apply for an apprenticeship.


Arnold Clark’s apprentice recruitment manager Suzanne Sherry said: “We wanted to do something to really excite young people about the amazing apprenticeship opportunities that are out there, not just at Arnold Clark but in general.


“We want to fly the flag for everybody who offers apprenticeships and the vehicle seemed like a great way to make sure we reach out to as many young people across Scotland as possible and really spread the word.

“I have 300 Arnold Clark apprenticeship vacancies to fill this year so the ultimate goal would be that some of the young people we engage with through the vehicle will get on board and join us."

Arnold Clark offers apprenticeships across 12 different disciplines including IT, mechanics, alarm engineering, parts, garage equipment engineering and business administration.

In addition to modern apprenticeships it also offers graduate apprenticeships in IT software design.

Sherry said: “One of the boards is a mini tyre-change task, which involves using an impact gun to remove and fit a wheel, while another one is all about electricity, connectivity and how to wire things up correctly.

“There is also a board based on a house alarm system, complete with a control panel and sensors, which has to be wired correctly to work and one based on hydraulics which shows the mini workings of a lift.”

Skills Development Scotland’s director of career information advice and guidance operations James Russell said: “I was delighted to attend the launch of Arnold Clark's interactive apprenticeship truck today and see first-hand some of the great work they're doing to encourage young people to take on apprenticeships.

“There’s an ever-increasing appetite for work-based learning and there are even more opportunities this year to take up foundation, modern and graduate apprenticeships.

"Initiatives like the truck are a great way to get young people interested in apprenticeships and give them an opportunity for experiential learning before making career choices.”


Arnold Clark promo apprenticeship van