Over 30 MPs sign letter to the Prime Minister on Border Control

Over 30 MPs - from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Parties -  have signed a letter to the Prime Minister questioning the Government’s apparent policy of refusing to implement any border control if Britain leaves the European Union.

Open Britain with Chuka Umunna MP have been co-ordinating gathering signatures for the letter which comes after the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night that there would be no border controls at Dover (https://twitter.com/Open_Britain/status/974596360598106112) and further revalations from Sky News about the Government’s plans for a wide-open border (https://twitter.com/faisalislam/status/974587573149585409).

Extracts of the letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

…the Government has been asking companies and industry groups to sign non-disclosure agreements over the impact of Brexit for Britain’s borders. To do this whilst withholding the information from Parliament and the British people is undemocratic and makes a complete mockery of Parliamentary sovereignty. MPs must be provided with this information in order to reach an informed view on the Customs and Trade Bills which are currently making their way through the House of Commons. The Government must therefore make public its post-Brexit border plans, by publishing the analysis it has shared with the companies involved.

Throwing open our borders and turning a blind eye to everything coming into the UK is not a serious solution to the mess the Government has created by opting to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union…

A number of further questions arise from these revelations:

  • Does the Government accept that this proposal would not avoid a hard border, because the EU would have to enforce checks on goods entering its common market?
  • What does the Government believe would be the implications of this for the settlement in Northern Ireland?
  • How could the Government enforce our levies on non-EU goods arriving into the UK via an EU country?
  • Do you agree that, in the event of no deal being reached, it would be in breach of WTO rules to apply no tariffs on EU goods whilst continuing to apply tariffs on goods from outside the EU?

It is extraordinary that a Government that says it aims to ‘take back control’ now admits it is not even going to try to control the transfer of goods across our borders, in the event we leave the Customs Union. 

/ends

 

Notes to editors

The full text of the letter is:

 

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you to express our deep concern following the shocking revelations in the past 48 hours about the Government’s plan for avoiding friction at UK borders post-Brexit. Sky News reported today that companies are being told the Government will unilaterally decide not to enforce border checks and hope the EU adopts a reciprocal approach. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, confirmed this position last night on the BBC’s Question Time.

We also know that the Government has been asking companies and industry groups to sign non-disclosure agreements over the impact of Brexit for Britain’s borders. To do this whilst withholding the information from Parliament and the British people is undemocratic and makes a complete mockery of Parliamentary sovereignty. MPs must be provided with this information in order to reach an informed view on the Customs and Trade Bills which are currently making their way through the House of Commons. The Government must therefore make public its post-Brexit border plans, by publishing the analysis it has shared with the companies involved.

Throwing open our borders and turning a blind eye to everything coming into the UK is not a serious solution to the mess the Government has created by opting to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. Just two weeks ago, in your Mansion House speech, you said “it is not good enough to say, ‘We won’t introduce a hard border ... We chose to leave; we have a responsibility to help find a solution.” This is absolutely right, and the public will want to know whether you have changed your view.

A number of further questions arise from these revelations:

  • Does the Government accept that this proposal would not avoid a hard border, because the EU would have to enforce checks on goods entering its common market?
  • What does the Government believe would be the implications of this for the settlement in Northern Ireland?
  • How could the Government enforce our levies on non-EU goods arriving into the UK via an EU country?
  • Do you agree that, in the event of no deal being reached, it would be in breach of WTO rules to apply no tariffs on EU goods whilst continuing to apply tariffs on goods from outside the EU? 
  • What infrastructure, if any, is the Government in the process of putting in place in order to manage border checks, and how much money has been spent on this to date?
  • With the Spring Statement announcing £260 million in funding to HMRC for Brexit preparations, what exactly is this money being spent on if not infrastructure to implement a customs border?

It is extraordinary that a Government that says it aims to ‘take back control’ now admits it is not even going to try to control the transfer of goods across our borders, in the event we leave the Customs Union. This has major implications for our businesses, our infrastructure and our trade. It could also have huge consequences for our reputation as a country that abides by the rules and upholds international agreements. The country therefore deserves a swift and clear explanation of the Government’s position.

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

The current list of signatories includes:

  1. Chuka Umunna
  2. Caroline Lucas
  3. Norman Lamb
  4. Seema Malhotra
  5. Mike Gapes
  6. Chris Leslie
  7. Stephen Doughty
  8. Martin Whitfield
  9. Gareth Thomas
  10. Kate Green
  11. Chris Bryant
  12. Kerry McCarthy
  13. Darren Jones
  14. Heidi Alexander
  15. Gavin Shuker
  16. Paul Williams
  17. Ben Bradshaw
  18. Rushanara Ali
  19. Stella Creasy
  20. Madeleine Moon
  21. Ann Coffey
  22. Phil Wilson
  23. Wes Streeting
  24. Ian Murray
  25. Tulip Siddiq
  26. Ruth Cadbury
  27. Liz Kendall
  28. Luciana Berger
  29. Lousie Ellman
  30. Peter Kyle
  31. Meg Hillier
  32. Bridget Phillipson