The British government’s lack of planning for how to manage U.K. border checks immediately after Brexit is based on “wishful thinking” and is “borderline reckless,” according to a report from MPs released Friday.
The report, from the House of Commons’ public accounts committee, lambasted the government’s lack of preparedness based on an assumption that little would change once the U.K. leaves the European Union.
Even if there is no Brexit deal, the U.K. government does not expect many changes at the border or additional border risks. The government’s current plan does not include introducing new physical infrastructure at the border. Ministers do not expect new IT systems used for cross-border security checks to be ready for the transition by the U.K.’s official exit date of March 29, 2019.
“This approach, in the context of what continues to be huge uncertainty about the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU, might generously be described as cautious,” Committee Chair Meg Hillier said in a statement accompanying the report. “But against the hard deadline of Brexit it is borderline reckless – an over-reliance on wishful thinking that risks immediately exposing the UK to an array of damaging scenarios.”
Roughly 300 million people and 500 million tons of freight crossed the border in the year of 2016.
The committee recommends that the government create a detailed plan for border management in the event of a no-deal scenario by next June.
“Last month we reported on the threat of chaos if HMRC’s new customs system is not ready in time for Brexit and there is no viable fall-back option,” said Hillier. “We were deeply concerned by the lack of progress on this backup plan. It is now alarming to note such weak contingency planning extends across Government departments.