One of the greatest risks of exiting the European Union without a deal in a so-called "hard Brexit" was the possibility that commerce would be snarled at Britain's border where goods previously flowed freely, but some British officials are now pledging to do that on purpose.
Britain will remain within the European customs union or "single market" until the December 31st of this year, but border controls will be imposed on January 1st according to Brexit preparation minister Michael Gove.
Gove spoke to representatives from the shipping industry this morning where he said they need to prepare for the costs and red tape associated with a hard border according to the Financial Times. Gove also said measures that would have smoothed the flow of goods across the border in the event of a hard brexit won't be reintroduced because companies have the next year to prepare for it.
“The UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union, so we will have to be ready for the customs procedures and regulatory checks that will inevitably follow,” Gove said in a speech at a Border Delivery Group event on Monday, according to extracts provided by the government.
The government said all UK exports and imports would be treated equally, with traders in Britain and the EU having to submit customs declarations and be liable to checks on goods.
Plans put in place to ease the flow of goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit would not be reintroduced, Gove said, as businesses will have time to prepare for the changes.
To be clear, Gove is pledging to impose strict border controls even if they secure a free trade deal of some description with the European Union.
While Gove says businesses have plenty of time to prepare for the end of the free flow of goods across the border, he also acknowledged that the Johnson government will not be entirely prepared for it.
Gove, who as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is de facto deputy prime minister, also warned delegates it could take five years to get a smart border involving online processes up and running and said businesses had to be ready for the change next January, whatever the outcome of the next phase of Brexit negotiations.
“In questions and answers his officials talked of an ‘operational border’ from the beginning of 2021, which they said was laying the foundation for best borders in 2025,” said one delegate, who reported that Gove had warned the UK must be ready for the completion of Brexit on 1 January next year when the transition period ends.
I know it's easy to lose track of time, but Britain voted for the Brexit four-freaking years ago and Gove is saying they won't have their "best borders" for another five years.
Of course, the true 'best border' is what they have now which is no border at all.
There is no empirical economic case for pursuing this agenda; no empirical case for making business and trade more difficult than it has been for decades.
The desire to impose strict checks and bureaucratic red tape on Britain's borders is driven by nationalism and xenophobia. The goal is to stop or slow the flow of immigration or people who may be European citizens but are still considered "undesirable" for reasons mostly associated with race or religion.
This also applies to the conservative desire to lock down our border with Mexico here in the United States. Like their counterparts in Britain, American conservatives don't actually care if someone is a legal immigrant or permanent resident. They want them all gone.