Britain is expected to confirm that it will once again delay introducing post-Brexit border controls on food and fresh products coming from the European Union, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
The UK had delayed implementing the checks several times since leaving the EU’s customs union and single market in January 2021, but British exports have faced controls for products heading in the opposite direction.
The UK was planning to finally roll out its new import controls in phases in the year leading to October 31, 2024.
But the FT said UK ministers were set to confirm another delay, pushing its launch to next year, due to inflationary fears that the new red tape will drive up food prices.
UK inflation, currently running at 6.8 percent down from 7.9 percent in June, has for months been the highest among G7 nations despite the Bank of England hiking its key interest rate more than a dozen times in succession to try to tame it.
Asked about reports of further delays, a government spokesperson said only that they were “reflecting on the valuable feedback” from businesses and stakeholders and will publish its plans “shortly”.
The government “remained committed to delivering the best border in the world”, they added.
The main opposition Labour party has accused the government of creating “huge uncertainty” for businesses with repeated delays.
“The government’s handling of this important issue has been absolutely shambolic,” Labour’s spokesman for international trade Gareth Thomas said.
The UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020, after a referendum in favour of Brexit in 2016.
British exporters say EU controls have caused long delays at Channel ports, extra bureaucracy and cost, putting them at a commercial disadvantage with importers from the bloc.
Opponents say Brexit has erected barriers to trade with the UK’s biggest overseas market for goods and services, pushing up the price of food and cutting exports.