Government unveils £705m boost to secure Britain's borders after Brexit

11 July 2020, 23:20

A new lorry park in Kent is expected to form part of the new border measures
A new lorry park in Kent is expected to form part of the new border measures. Picture: Getty

By Ewan Somerville

Ministers will spend more than £700 million on building new infrastructure, staff and technology to secure Britain's border following Brexit, it has been announced. 

The new measures will ensure the UK’s border systems are “fully operational” when the UK officially leaves the European Union at the end of the year, the Government said.

They are expected to include a control centre and lorry park in Kent to cope with a potential backlog of hauliers. 

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the investment would allow traders to "manage the changes and seize the opportunities" when the transition period ends in December.

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New border infrastructure will be built inland where there is no space at ports, while ports will get one-off financial support to ensure the right infrastructure is in place, Downing Street said. 

The £705 million package includes £235 million for staffing and IT systems, and £470 million for port and inland infrastructure to ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls.

Around 500 more Border Force staff will be recruited and HMRC systems will be bolstered to “reduce the burden on traders”, the Government said. 

It is understood that the Government has purchased land 20 miles from the Port of Dover in Ashford, Kent, for a new border centre and lorry park, with work set to start on Monday. 

The size of the site is not known but junior transport minister Rachel Maclean said in a letter to residents that it “is anticipated to form part of the department’s strategy to minimise potential disruption at Kent ports”. 

It follows concerns that new customs checks post-Brexit will create long tailbacks near Dover. 

'Do we now need an extension to Brexit transition period?'

The funding relates only to the implementation of the GB-EU border, and the Government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.

Mr Gove said: "We are taking back control of our borders, and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.

"That is why we are announcing this major package of investment today.

"With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705 million will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world's most effective and secure border."

The transition period is set to end at the end of December 2020, when the UK will leave the single market and customs union.

The funding package comes ahead of a public information campaign in which guidance will be given to traders and hauliers explaining what they may need to do to prepare for the end of the transition period.