25 OCT 2017

We should set aside one billion for "no deal" Brexit

I want £1 billion to be set aside in the Budget for preparations for a "no deal" Brexit scenario.

I told the House of Commons, in an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday night, that the money should be spent on upgrading border systems and infrastructure. Brexit Secretary David Davis was in attendance to listen to my speech.

Planning for no deal is not simply a negotiation point. Increasingly it is the responsible thing to do. It would be wrong to wait until the last moment to start investing. It is in the national interest that we invest now.

At least £1 billion should be set aside in the November Budget to invest in upgrading our systems and infrastructure so that we will be ready on day one to forge ahead on day two.

I argued that Britain must invest now to be ready on day one for leaving the European Union, deal or no deal. I set out three key reasons: that investing now is insurance against a last-minute "no deal"; that being able to walk away will ensure Britain gets the best deal; and that this is "no regrets" spending on border upgrades that are needed anyway.

In 2015, tailbacks caused by strikes in Calais caused queues of 4,600 lorries over 30 miles, at the cost of £1 Billion to the British economy.In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks with miles of traffic and 250,000 people caught up in the delay.

Gridlock at Dover will mean gridlock for the British economy.

I pointed out that European nations are also required to make upgrades at ports like Calais and Dunkirk. A global trade facilitation agreement that came into force in February makes detailed provision for fast customs clearances, electronic payment systems and trusted trader regimes.

We've spent long enough waiting for the EU to get its act together. Three quarters of the country agrees that if progress can't be made, we should be prepared to walk away. It's vital that we have the option to do so. That we are fully prepared. That's why we must be ready on day one, to forge ahead on day two, deal or no deal.

In response, Brexit Minister Steve Baker referenced a report published by me in July which "rightly focused on the importance of having a functioning border on day one."

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Charlie Elphicke

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