The British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that a “no deal Brexit” or “hard Brexit” would mean tariffs and costly checks at the UK border in her speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
Speaking at the annual gathering of her party, she said that she remained confident that the British government could still secure a good deal on brexit but she refused to rule out a ‘no deal’ scenario, not least because that would weaken the government’s negotiating position. She did, however, say that she expected “British resilience” to overcome such problems should they occur.
Saying of the terms that the UK had offered:
Our proposal is for a free trade deal that provides for frictionless trade in goods. It would protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the just-in-time supply chains our manufacturing firms rely on. Businesses wouldn’t face costly checks when they export to the EU, so they can invest with confidence. And it would protect our precious Union – the seamless border in Northern Ireland, a bedrock of peace and stability, would see no change whatsoever.
– Theresa May, British Prime Minister
It’s not entirely clear exactly she means by tariffs and costly checks at the border and whether this would simply apply to larger consignments of imports and exports or whether it would also be applicable to individual packages and items sent via the post or couriers. Any such situation could be problematic for marketplace merchants.
And in the same way it’s not known what the paperwork and labelling requirements will be either. Even a system that relies on cutting edge technology could add delays, especially in the short term before it became operational, and even an extra day on carriage would represent a retrograde step.
It’s also less than certain that she is correct. As the Brexit negotiations progress, and the issue of the Irish-British border remains entirely unresolved, it seems less and less likely that the EU will accept what essentially looks like the UK retaining the unfettered movement of goods with the bloc.
Wherever you sit on the prospects of a no deal Brexit, there can be little disagreement that anything which adds delays to shipments sent to the EU, or requires more processes and time from merchants, is not attractive.