Its impossible to build the necessary infrastructure on the U.K.s borders in time for a no-deal Brexit in March 2019, the British governments spending watchdog warned Wednesday.
“Without the necessary infrastructure, HMRC, Border Force and others may not be able to fully enforce compliance regimes at the border on day one,” according to the report by the National Audit Office (NAO). Weaknesses in the border infrastructure could be exploited by organized crime, the watchdog added.
As of last month, 11 of the 12 major projects to replace or change key border systems “were at risk of not being delivered on time,” the NAO said.
The NAO concluded that “the most complex issues relating to the border in the event of the U.K. leaving the EU without a deal remain to be solved.”
Even if the U.K. government does strike a withdrawal agreement with the EU and has until December 2020 to prepare for Brexit, authorities would still need to undertake “significant work” to design and implement any new arrangements, though “the scale of this change will be nowhere near that required if the U.K. and the EU cannot reach an agreement,” the report noted.
Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, “individuals and businesses will feel the impact of a sub-optimal border,” the NAO said.