Under Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement, some checks and declarations on goods travelling between the UK and EU had a year-long grace period. That ended yesterday – leading several commentators to forecast that Brexit Britain would badly lose out.
Outspoken Brexit critic Lord Adonis even used the New Year to “celebrate” the euro’s 20th anniversary as he claimed that the UK would one day rejoin the bloc.
He spoke as a former top civil servant told BBC Radio 4 that the additional rules will result in some businesses deciding it isn’t “worth the hassle” trading in the EU.
Philip Rycroft, who was permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) between 2017 and 2019, said the new rules might be too much for some companies.
His comments were quickly slammed by many Express.co.uk readers – who said that the “teething problems” worked both ways.
Mastermariner wrote: “Utter rubbish. Businessmen and women are there to do one job only. Make profit!
“Either in the UK and/or with other trading partners, and they will find a way to make a successful business profitable.
“Stop undermining their ability to succeed, because they will despite teething problems.”
Seafort wrote: “Quite funny most of the Pro-EU sycophants flooding the comments section ignore the fact EU companies are going to be hit with extra costs and paperwork as well.
“The UK is finally putting the burden onto them if they want to export to UK.
“The UK also doesn’t have to import from the EU and can just as well find other markets much more accommodating than the EU has been.
“The EU disrupts trade it does not facilitate trade for easy procurement.
“When costs outweigh the gains it’s time to find new markets outside the EU like a lot of UK businesses have been doing.”
Citizen Smithie wrote: “No damage to Britain, just damage to EU exports. It’s a boost for home producers and our new FTA partners.”
Speaking on Radio 4’s PM programme, Mr Rycroft explained that the changes mean importers must make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU or other countries.
Traders are no longer able to delay completing full import customs declarations for up to 175 days, a measure introduced to cope with the disruption of Brexit.
There are separate provisions in place for trade with the island of Ireland.
He added: “The Federation of Small Businesses reckon that only about a quarter of their members are ready for this, which is a bit surprising in a way because they’d obviously had a lot of notice that this is coming.
“But let’s not forget, they’ve had a pretty torrid year, most businesses, with Covid and everything else, so a lot of businesses won’t be ready.
“There will be teething problems… but the big question is, how many businesses ultimately think: ‘Do you know what? This is just too much hassle’, and give up importing?
“Just as some businesses have already given up exporting because it’s not worth it.”