Brexit has been ‘big success already’, says minister

Brexit is making UK firms face "increased costs, paperwork and border delays" a group of MPs have said.

According to a report from parliament's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it is "clear" that leaving the EU is having an impact on UK trade volumes and this could get worse as new import controls come in.

"One of the great promises of Brexit was freeing British businesses to give them the headroom to maximise their productivity and contribution to the economy - even more desperately needed now on the long road to recovery from the pandemic," said PAC chair Meg Hillier.

"Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays."

It comes after Jacob Rees-Mogg's appointment as minister for Brexit opportunities as part of a mini cabinet reshuffle that gave everyone a laugh. But these opportunities might not be that great, according to PAC who, while noting the effects of Covid and wider global trends said Brexit had had a clear impact on UK trade and warned that government plans to create the most effective border in the world by 2025 were "optimistic, given where things stand today".

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The report also said that when people start travelling at pre-pandemic levels, this could put further pressure on ports like Dover and border systems especially as new systems haven't all been checked.

The MPs also raised concerns about the potential for people smuggling before new border infrastructure is completed close to Dover and called on the government to be more transparent about the Brexit process and to consider further support for small firms.

"It's time the government was honest about the problems rather than overpromising," Hillier said.

Responding to concerns, a PAC spokesperson told the BBC: "Traders have adapted well to the introduction of full customs controls on 1 January, with minimal disruption at the border and inbound freight flowing effectively through ports.

"We are continuing to ensure that businesses get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe and seize new opportunities as we strike trade deals with the world's fastest-growing markets, including one-to-one advice through the free-to-use Export Support Service".

Nevertheless, it seems like Rees-Mogg might have a lot on his plate.

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