The government’s spin department has been busy getting creative with some big numbers this week as it tries to sell new cumbersome border processes as a win for British businesses.
Plans for how post-Brexit border checks on goods coming into the UK from the EU will work have been set out by ministers.
The Government has published a draft border operating model, designed to bring in the checks the UK is required to make under its Brexit trade agreement with the EU.
Ministers have delayed implementing the checks on several occasions since the UK officially withdrew from the trade bloc on January 31, 2020.
Under plans published by the Cabinet Office, the Government says its new model will prevent delays at the border by reducing the need for physical checks for many types of goods.
The Government says that under the new model, investigations of animal and plant products would still be thorough enough to protect against diseases like African swine fever and Xylella, while also making it as easy as possible for businesses to import.
Spin departments have sold these new border processes as a “saving” to business of £400 million by comparing it to the £820 million which was originally estimated as the cost of imposing a full-fat border in 2022.
The figures, which were dutifully reported by The Telegraph as a Brexit win, mean businesses will still face £420 million of additional costs from post-Brexit border controls.
As Edwin Hayward pointed out on social media, it makes for quite a perplexing Brexit riddle.
“If something was going to cost you £820 million, but £400 million was subsequently knocked off, are you… Up £400 million? Down £420 million?”