Thursday 10 December 2020 / 12:19 PM Anneliese Dodds / Business

Government waives through “smuggler’s charter” as it struggles to avert Brexit gridlock at UK ports

Labour has condemned the Government for waiving through last-minute changes to customs rules that it admits will put the security of the UK border at risk.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has branded the new Customs Safety and Security Procedures (EU Exit) Regulations “tantamount to a smuggler’s charter”.

The new rules come amid massive uncertainty over how new customs and trading rules will operate, threatening major disruption in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.  

As the clock ticks down to the end of the Brexit transition period in 21 days, the Government has been forced to push through these regulations in the hope of reducing border disruption at UK ports.

The Government has accepted that the new rules, which give HMRC the power to waive pre-departure safety and security checks for exports, could potentially compromise UK border security, opening the door to smugglers to use our ports to carry out illegal activity.

Yesterday Labour warned that the growing pressure at UK ports is putting the Christmas economy at risk, with businesses stockpiling supplies due to Brexit uncertainty. This comes on top of continuing uncertainty on business-critical issues, from rules of origin to essential systems still not being operational. 


Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said: 

“Today the Government traded away the security and safety of UK trade by pushing through new customs rules that are tantamount to a smuggler’s charter.

“This comes on top of failures to deal with a range of business-critical issues that have repeatedly been raised with Government, from rules of origin to systems still not being ready with just days to go till we leave the transition period. 

“The Government’s desperate, last-ditch attempt to avoid gridlock at our ports could have been avoided if it had acted responsibly and taken action earlier”.