James O'Brien hears of bombshell Liz Truss letter warning UK isn't ready for Brexit

9 July 2020, 12:13

By Adrian Sherling

A journalist has told James O'Brien of the letter from Liz Truss to Michael Gove warning that the UK is not going to be ready for Brexit by the end of the year.

The Brexit transition period ends at the end of 2020 and Boris Johnson has insisted he will not extend it, despite the coronavirus crisis putting an additional strain on resources.

Adam Payne from Business Insider has seen a letter from Ms Truss, the International Trade Secretary, to Mr Gove warning that there are a number of aspects that look unlikely to be ready.

Speaking to James O'Brien, he said: "Liz Truss sent a letter yesterday to Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove and other colleagues explaining several concerns she has about the UK's borders not actually being ready for next year.

"Of course, next year, the transition period ends, we will leave the single market and the customs union and there will be checks and controls on goods to and from the EU which don't take place at the moment.

"The most striking things in this letter which really stand out are: firstly, Truss said she's concerned that UK ports might not be ready in time to carry out these checks and if that is the case, there is a risk of goods being smuggled into certain ports.

"Secondly, she's concerned that the system the government is creating to apply two different tariffs in Northern Ireland won't be ready either.

"And thirdly, she said there's a risk that the government's plan to phase in checks over six months and give the EU preferential treatment temporarily could actually face a legal challenge at the World Trade Organisation.

"The concerns that Truss has written about this week are things that business groups and hauliers have been saying for a number of weeks now."

James O'Brien heard about Liz Truss's bombshell letter to Michael Gove
James O'Brien heard about Liz Truss's bombshell letter to Michael Gove. Picture: PA / LBC

Adam says the concerns have been downplayed in recent weeks, but this may force the government to respond.

He added: "It's quite unusual for a letter between senior ministers of this nature to come out. Business groups are obviously very concerned and up in arms about it and I don't think the government can just ignore this and pretend it hasn't happened.

Hear the full interview at the top of the page.