- Nearly 9 out of every 10 cargo boats would stop ferrying trade across the English Channel if British Prime Minister Theresa May fails to secure a Brexit deal, according to leaked Border Force documents obtained by Sky News.
- But that decline will be eclipsed at the UK’s borders and airports where travel for the Brits will quickly coagulate around checkpoints and passport checks.
- The document, a blunt internal presentation on what Britain would really face in the event of a no-deal Brexit, warns of ‘significant’ outbound line ups at the Eurostar and a ‘degradation’ of security.
- Most tellingly, the Home Office predicts that it simply will not be able to tell the difference anymore between EU residents and new EU arrivals.
An internal government presentation reveals startling new details about how Britain could react to a no-deal exit from the European Union.
Sky News has obtained the Border Force presentation titled “Freight Traffic Contingency Assumptions.” The documents suggest that Britain, already humbled by its own indecisiveness and philosophic polarity, would begin life post-European Union with an 87% collapse in freight trade across the English Channel.
According to Shehab Khan writing in The Independent, should Britain fail to secure a deal with the EU, the vacuum in freight trade could last up to six months.
The leaked Border Force document, which provides a kind of ballpark prediction of contingency plans drawn up for the government, Britain will be stinging on all its Brexit pinch points – from border security, to migration, trade, and travel.
The Border Force also warns the government of “significant outbound queues” and a “degradation of border security.” The Home Office agency admits for the first time it will not be able to distinguish between EU residents and new EU arrivals.
A sudden disconnection with its longtime European partners will invite the possibility of “disruption,” “loss of data,” and an “additional clandestine threat,” Sky News says, citing the documents.
The no-deal plan, which would come in if the UK leaves the EU with no agreements on a future relationship, also assumes that UK citizens will no longer have access to self-service, “ePassport” kiosks at immigration checkpoints when traveling to the EU, but EU citizens coming to the UK will continue to enjoy the privilege.
The leaked document also details proposals to introduce customs controls and do away with the “blue exit” for British passengers returning from the EU.
- (Photo by Andrea Capello/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A government spokesperson told Sky News that it does not comment on leaked documents, but the official added: “We have set our no-deal planning assumptions for the border in December and the government has been planning for some time for all potential outcomes.”
If there is no agreement in place by March 29, roughly nine weeks away, that would be a no-deal Brexit scenario. If that happens, the Border Force says Brits, EU citizens, and visitors alike will have to get used to new travel protocols.
10 things you might dislike about no-deal Brexit travel:
- Britons going overseas would likely get questioned at entry and exit checkpoints.
- Border Force itself says it would face a “loss of data and access to a number of key systems we rely on,” as well as “some frontline operational capability.”
- Border Force would have to rely on what it calls inferior Interpol data for security matters.
- While Britain would still allow EU nationals to visit through convenient ePassport checkpoints, EU countries “will impose full Schengen Border Controls on passengers.”
- According to the document, a no-deal Brexit “would likely lead to disruption to commercial flight schedules, leading to flights arriving out of sequence.”
- This would all end up “contributing to queues building at major airports [and] significant outbound queues at St Pancras”, where the Eurostar leaves London.
- There will be a “surge in non-EU” migrants chasing a retreating pound. The document warns that this could even be apparent ahead of a looming no-deal Brexit, as Britain for people outside of the EU becomes a welcome, cheaper option.
- The presentation also explains that border staff “won’t be able to differentiate between existing residents and new arrivals” from the European Union/European Economic Area.
- And even though the government will claim EU freedom of movement has ended, even new arrivals will be allowed to work and study in the UK.
- And perhaps the final insult for traveling Britons: the “blue exit” for passengers out of the EU will be scrapped and passengers with chargeable items will instead enjoy passage through the “red channel.”