Brexit let us 'get rid of red tape,' Minister insists despite five-hour Dover lorry queues

31 January 2022, 08:28 | Updated: 31 January 2022, 10:28

By Asher McShane

A treasury minister today hailed the scrapping of red tape as a 'big success' of Brexit, despite lorry queues of five hours or more of goods waiting to be processed to cross the Channel.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke was asked by Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC: “How have we benefitted from Brexit?”

Mr Clarke said: “The biggest single benefit came in the form of the vaccine programme… in terms of both procuring vaccines and getting them safely licensed.

He also highlighted free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, he also citing scrapping EU freedom of movement and cutting red tape as benefits of Brexit.

“You’re not seriously going to pretend we have control of our borders are you?” Nick asked.

“It can take five hours for a lorry driver to get through Dover. That’s an improvement is it?”

“We continue to make sure that our borders flow as quickly as possible,” said Mr Clarke.

“The reality is we continue to work to refine our border processes so they can be as smooth as possible.

“In reality [Brexit] has allowed us quicker vaccination, it’s allowed us to scrap free movement, it’s allowed us to begin free trade negotiations, it’s allowed us to get rid of a load of red tape. It has been a big success already."

Queues of up to 9km have been reported near Dover in January. The fresh delays at the port this month have been blamed on extra controls which have come into place following Brexit.

Pictures taken on January 11 show huge queues of lorries lining up to be processed.

Multiple witnesses have also shared social media footage of the queues and blamed Brexit red tape for causing delays.

Port chiefs have urged the government to hold talks with the EU on ways to ease further checks set to come in later in 2022.

At the end of September, the European Union’s new Entry/Exit System (EES) comes into effect. Passengers from non-EU countries will have to carry out biometric checks at the border.

Mr Clarke's comments come after the Government announced a new Bill that it says will remove "outdated" laws and enable the UK to "capitalise on Brexit freedoms".

The "Brexit Freedoms" Bill will make it easier to amend EU law retained in the UK, as part of a drive which it claims will "cut £1 billion of red tape" for UK businesses.

"Getting Brexit done two years ago today was a truly historic moment and the start of an exciting new chapter for our country," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"We have made huge strides since then to capitalise on our newfound freedoms and restore the UK's status as a sovereign, independent country that can determine its own future.

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He added: "Our new Brexit Freedoms Bill will end the special status of EU law in our legal framework and ensure that we can more easily amend or remove outdated EU law in future."

The announcement comes at the peak of the partygate scandal, which has embroiled the Government for the last few months following allegations of a string of lockdown-breaching parties held in Downing Street.

Sue Gray's report into the parties is due to be handed to the PM any day now - although it is expected to be a heavily-redacted version owing to the ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation.

Some regulations made in Brussels were preserved in UK law for the sake of continuity after the Brexit transition period ended in 2020.

The Government has previously made clear that it intends to eventually amend, replace or repeal all of the retained law that it deems "not right for the UK".

But Downing Street said that under current rules, changing or scrapping regulations would take "several years" because of a long-winded alteration process.

It said primary legislation is needed for many changes, even if "minor and technical".

Downing Street said the new Bill will "ensure that changes can be made more easily", so the UK can "capitalise on Brexit freedoms more quickly".

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