A leaked letter addressed to Michael Gove and Rishi Sunak from Liz Truss has revealed panic within Number 10 over border plans, which could risk smuggling, legal challenge, and global reputational damage.
According to Business Insider the Secretary of State for International Trade expressed four “key areas of concerns” about the government’s plans to leave EU trading and custom rules at the end of 2020.
Truss said the plans could create a series of logistical, political, and reputational risks for the government, including a legal challenge from the World Trade Organisation, increased smuggling from the EU, concerns over the union with Northern Ireland and an undermining of the UK’s international trade policy.
She wrote: “I would like assurances that we are able to deliver full control at these ports by July 2021 and that plans are in place from January to mitigate the risk of goods being circumvented from ports implementing full controls.”
It’s a bit late for the border still not to be ready
Messages sent within an ERG WhatsApp group, leaked by Patrick Maguire, appear to confirm mounting concerns over the border plans.
The hardline Brexiteers fear that the Brexit border not being ready is part of a No10 conspiracy to keep UK in EU tariff regime.
One says: “A big question is where these things are on the cock up to conspiracy slider
“It’s a bit late for the border still not to be ready. After all, HMRC just proved how fast they can move when their hearts are in it.”
Telling exchange between Steve Baker and Boris Johnson in the ERG WhatsApp yesterday.— Patrick Maguire (@patrickkmaguire) July 9, 2020
Brexiteers fear that reports like @adampayne26’s on Liz Truss warning that the Brexit border isn’t ready are part of a No10 conspiracy to keep UK in EU tariff regime.
More in @timesredbox pic.twitter.com/6M4e9dimVu
UK-EU trade talks
Michel Barnier said he had a “useful discussion” with Boris Johnson’s Europe adviser, David Frost, yesterday as the pair try to inject some movement into UK-EU trade talks.
The European Union’s chief negotiator said the two sides will “continue negotiating in good faith today” following a “nice dinner” in Number 10 on Tuesday night.
The latest talks come after the Prime Minister told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the UK would be prepared to walk away without a trade deal at the end of the year.
Mr Barnier said the negotiators are “working hard for a fair agreement” with the UK, including on the key sticking points of fisheries and the “level playing field” arrangements designed to prevent the UK undercutting the EU by lowering standards and increasing state subsidies.