Red tape, border delays if no Brexit deal, Britain warns firms

LONDON (Reuters) – British companies trading with the European Union will face a tangle of red tape and possible delays at the border if the government fails to negotiate an exit deal before Britain leaves the bloc, official papers showed on Thursday.

Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Dominic Raab gestures during his speech outlining the government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Britain’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab said he remained confident the two sides would reach a deal, but set out in a series of notes what could change without one, including more paperwork for trade and more costly credit card payments when ordering EU products.

With little more than seven months to go until it leaves the EU on March 29, Britain has yet to reach an agreement with the bloc on the terms of its departure. Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for a “business-friendly” deal has failed to impress negotiators in Brussels and has been heavily criticised at home.

“We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality,” Raab said. “To do this, we need to have a sensible, responsible and realistic conversation about what a no deal situation really means in practise.”

The government’s guidelines make it clear that companies trading with Europe would face new customs and excise rules and require paperwork covering customs and safety declarations in the event of no deal.

If Britain left the EU in March 2019 without a deal “the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease,” the guidance said.

As a result, the government is working with industry to stockpile medicines for six weeks above normal operational supplies.

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