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 on Wednesday, 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.
But it won’t be that easy.
According to Shane Brennan of the Cold Chain Federation lobby group, for EU business shipping “medium-risk” goods like meat, fish, dairy and some plant-related products, they will require a physical export health certificate, signed at the point of dispatch by a qualified vet.
That means if you’re an Italian mozzarella maker or a German salami manufacturer who was happily exporting to the UK, from October 31, you’ll need to find and pay a vet and make sure all your paperwork is in order to send those goods to the UK.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Brennan said that could make things very interesting for Christmas time if EU companies react the way that many UK companies did in 2020 when the EU imposed these requirements – they simply stopped exporting because they didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with the paperwork.
It could mean we’re in for a pretty lean Christmas for Brits!
Related: Government spin in overdrive as they sell £420m exporting cost to business as a ‘Brexit win’