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Government accused of post-Brexit checks ‘chaos’ after report of new delay

Labour has accused the Government of creating “huge uncertainty” for businesses with “absolutely shambolic” post-Brexit border trade plans.

The party has demanded clarity after it was reported that ministers will once again delay the introduction of border checks on animal and plant products coming from the European Union.

The UK was planning to roll out the first stage of its new border model from October, with physical checks and other requirements due to be introduced throughout next year.

But it will be pushed back again over concerns the extra bureaucracy would raise food prices for consumers and fuel inflation, the Financial Times reported earlier this month.

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Labour said the report of a further delay, which has not been formally announced by the Government, are causing “chaos” and “enormous uncertainty” for businesses while millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have already been spent on preparing for the changes.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party had previously warned that the new measures could drive up soaring grocery prices further as households face ongoing cost-of-living pressures.

Goods from Britain have faced EU controls since it left the bloc’s single market at the start of 2021, but the UK has repeatedly put off checks in the other direction.

The Government said it is assessing feedback on its border control regime and will publish its plans imminently.

Shadow international trade minister Gareth Thomas has written to Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch to demand an update on the latest border plans and costs of the preparation work.

Mr Thomas said: “The Government’s handling of this important issue has been absolutely shambolic. They have delayed new border checks time and again, creating huge uncertainty for businesses, who are already struggling as a result of Conservative economic mismanagement.

“With the deadlines for new checks just months away, it is unacceptable that businesses have not received a clear update from the Government on whether the new border arrangements are even going to be introduced. The Tories’ trade barriers are stunting economic growth.

“Labour will turn this around as part of our mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The Government remains committed to delivering the best border in the world. The border target operating model is key to delivering this and introduces an innovative approach to importing that will be introduced progressively.

“We are reflecting on the valuable feedback provided by a range of businesses and industry stakeholders, and will publish the border target operating model shortly.”