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Expert warns the Internal Market Bill is not an emergency button

by David Jinks MILT ParcelHero
14th Sep 20 2:58 pm

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland’s claims that the Internal Market Bill is a ‘break-the-glass-in-an-emergency provision’. In fact, it’s a self-destruct button that could force a no-deal Brexit, unleashing £11bn of new border tariffs, fears ParcelHero

The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, defended the Government’s controversial Internal Market Bill on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday saying: ‘This is all about insurance planning, if you like, a break-the-glass-in-an-emergency provision.’

However, the international parcel delivery expert ParcelHero says enforcing the terms of the bill, which is being debated by MPs later today, would be pressing a self-destruct switch, not a break-the-glass emergency button.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says approving the bill could scupper the EU-UK Brexit trade deal, leading to the introduction of £11bn of new tariffs at EU borders. It may also create a harder border with the Republic of Ireland, causing significant delays and unravelling plans UK exporters have been developing all year.

Introducing this bill knowingly undermines the EU Withdrawal Agreement that was given official Royal Assent only in January. If implemented, it would have a significant impact on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is a crucial part of the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement agreed by the UK and the EU before the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January.

The bill could force the EU’s hand and result in a no-deal Brexit that ParcelHero calculates will create £11bn of new border tariffs and cost the average UK SME £163,000 in increased costs and duties.

The Internal Market Bill is only an “insurance plan” in the same way the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) nuclear policy of the 1960s “insured” world peace. Once used, this bill would change the way goods from Northern Ireland enter the UK and overturn state aid rules on subsidies for firms in Northern Ireland, something entirely unacceptable to the EU. The world may not have blown itself up in the ’60s but that does not mean Britain won’t be mad enough to press the button today.

Of course, any plan that would reduce the amount of paperwork Northern Ireland businesses have to fill in on goods bound for the mainland, such as export and exit declarations, or even eliminate them entirely, as the bill proposes, is excellent in principle. But the price of a frictionless border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland could be a harder border with the Republic. That might be too high a price, bearing in mind the damage it would do to EU relations.

ParcelHero is warning UK businesses and the Government not to take their eyes off the ball and let the impact of Covid overshadow the true cost of a no-deal Brexit. We fully concur with the warning given last month by Thomas Sampson, Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, who said: “When measured in terms of their impact on the present value of UK GDP, the Brexit shock is forecast to be two to three times greater than the impact of COVID-19.”

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