- Exclusive: Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is under increasing pressure to release details of his Brexit plan.
- The Labor Party wrote to Michael Gove asking him to answer several questions about how Britain's borders will work if Britain leaves EU trade rules by the end of the year.
- Business Insider has received a copy of the letter, which you can read below.
- Work is currently underway to set up a new customs clearance office in Kent, England, which will carry out new controls from 2021.
- Labor's Rachel Reeves told Gove that businesses are concerned about costly new bureaucracy, while people in Kent worry about pollution and traffic.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
The Labor Party has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government asking for clarity on the work it is doing to prepare Britain's borders for the end of the year of European Union trade rules.
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has asked Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to provide companies and communities with details as soon as possible of how Brexit will affect them.
Reeves wrote to Gove after visiting Ashton, Kent, on Thursday, where work is currently underway to build one of the many new customs clearance offices that will have new controls in place from 2021 for goods transported to and from the EU.
British government officials are currently expecting to build a total of 10 to 12 new locations across the country in anticipation of significant new bureaucracy.
The government estimates that from 2021 more than 400 million additional customs controls will be carried out on goods in and out of the EU every year.
Reeves wrote to Gove on Friday after her visit to Kent, asking several questions about infrastructure development on the 27-hectare property and other locations that were set up elsewhere to prepare for Brexit.
"As you will surely know, residents and businesses in Kent are very concerned about the impact of our new customs regime after December 31," said Reeves.
"I've heard from companies that are very concerned about the additional cost and bureaucratic burden, and from residents who are concerned about noise, air pollution, and general disruption in their area."
"With just five months to go until the end of the transition period, businesses across the country are in dire need of clarity," she said.
"But it is equally important that there are communities across the UK who want to be sure that these agreements will not disturb them much without warning without prior warning."
In her letter, Reeve asked Gove to provide details of what the new Customs Center will do for Ashford and the surrounding area, how many trucks are expected to drive through the site, and how many hours it will be open.
She asked what work the government had done to assess the new site's impact on noise and air pollution, and whether ministers were considering compensating residents for an increase in pollution and traffic in their area.
Reeves also asked Gove to provide details of several new Customs Centers being built elsewhere in Kent and across the country to prepare for the year-end exit from the EU single market and Customs Union.
Business Insider has asked the UK government to comment.
British companies are preparing for a series of new controls and procedures for goods going to and from the EU, the UK's largest trading partner, from January 2021.
Johnson's government and the EU hope to be able to mitigate at least some of the impact by negotiating a free trade agreement by the end of the year. After months of negotiations, both sides still have a breakthrough.
Earlier this month, Business Insider received a copy of a letter from Secretary of Commerce Liz Truss to Gove and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, expressing "four major areas of concern" about the government's efforts to ensure Britain's borders for January are ready in 2021.
In the leaked letter, Truss expressed fears that new border agreements with the EU could not be completed in time.
Concerned that UK ports will not be ready to carry out full import controls when they enter into force next July, she warned that some ports may be vulnerable to smuggling from January.
Truss also suggested that the UK government's proposed system of applying UK and EU tariffs in Northern Ireland should not be ready when needed in January.
Business groups in Northern Ireland were concerned this week that businesses in the region would not have enough time to prepare for changes in trade with the EU and the rest of the UK.
The UK government has promised to publish a full frontier operation model to provide Northern Ireland companies with the information they need to prepare. However, this should not be published until autumn – possibly just a few weeks before the UK leaves the Brexit transition period in late December.
Here is Labour's letter to the government:
Today I visited the location of the government's planned truck park / customs center in Ashford.
As you will surely know, residents and businesses in Kent are very concerned about the impact of our new customs arrangements after age 31st December. I have heard from companies that are very concerned about the additional costs and bureaucratic burdens and from residents who are concerned about noise, air pollution and general disturbances in their region.
With just five months to go until the end of the transition period, businesses across the country desperately need clarity. However, it is equally important that there are communities up and down across the UK who want to be sure that these agreements will not cause them to experience major disruptions without prior warning.
I would be happy if you could answer some of these questions as soon as possible to provide communities and businesses across Kent and beyond with the much needed clarity:
· What assessment has the government made of possible effects on noise and air quality in the region of both this location and other potential locations?
· Has a specific development contract been placed with this site, and will it be?
· Has an environmental impact assessment been completed for the government's Ashford site plans?
· What arrangements have been made to fund local areas to offset potential costs associated with the Ashford site and others?
· Has compensation been considered for residents affected by air quality, noise and / or traffic?
· What are the expected operating hours for the Ashford location after 31 years?st December?
· Should this location or another location be used as a truck park for vehicles waiting for customs controls, how many trucks should be expected to enter and exit at this location in the course of a day?
· Is this website intended for trucks traveling from the UK to the EU, for trucks traveling from the EU to the UK, or both?
· What other locations are considered after 31 to accommodate customs and border infrastructure?stDecember?
Will the government get local feedback on this website and contact locals in Kent and elsewhere before further websites are announced?
· Can the government confirm what plans it has to build infrastructure in the rest of Kent?
· What plans are there to address potential disruption to Kent and South East England residents and businesses related to border delays and queues?
· Will there be similar locations in other parts of the country? Are similar facilities needed near other ports – and if so, which ports? Have locations at these locations been selected or rated for this purpose?
I look forward to your answer to these important questions.