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Jersey’s border ‘fully prepared’ for Brexit

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JERSEY’S border is fully prepared for a no-deal Brexit and there should be no dramatic changes for Islanders or produce going to and from the EU, the head of Customs and Immigration has said.

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Mark Cockerham, the new director of the organisation, said hard work from teams in the background meant there should be little disruption between Jersey and Europe.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said recently that a no-deal Brexit was looking ‘more likely’ as the EU continued to refuse to budge in negotiations.

A group of MPs has made a legal challenge to try to stop Mr Johnson from shutting down Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit ahead of 31 October.

But Mr Cockerham has moved to reassure Islanders that in terms of movement between Jersey and the EU it should be business as usual.

‘We had a sort of trial run when 29 March [the original Brexit date] was approaching and the planning for that was actually quite useful. We are ready for a no-deal scenario,’ he said.

Asked how imports and travel might work on 1 November if an agreement was not reached with the EU, Mr Cockerham said: ‘In terms of travel, tourists from the EU will still be able to come to Jersey and people will still be able to leave. There should be no changes.’

He explained that should a deal be reached, there would be more controls for EU nationals coming to Jersey and that ‘ESTA visa systems and Australia points systems had been considered in the UK’.

As for produce, Mr Cockerham said about 17% of goods arriving in Jersey came directly from the EU. He added that as long as firms had made the correct declarations, there should be no adverse delays. Customs and Immigration officers have been working with importers to ensure they are ready for Brexit and that correct declarations are made.

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‘What we cannot control is the UK aspect. If, for example, there are goods coming from Germany to the UK and then onto Jersey, there may be hold-ups at Dover that we cannot control,’ he added.

About 80% of goods delivered to Jersey come from the UK.

It emerged last week that the Health Department had been stockpiling medical supplies in anticipation of delays at UK ports. A debate is due to be held in the States Assembly next month to decide whether the Island should appoint an air-freight service to ensure supplies are affected as little as possible.

Mr Cockerham added that estimates suggest there are about 20,000 EU nationals living in Jersey. The rights of EU nationals living in the UK and the Crown Dependencies, and UK nationals residing in the EU, have been protected, as an EU Settlement Scheme was set up in the UK and in Jersey allowing EU nationals ‘making a valid contribution to society’ to stay.

To date, about 5,000 people have completed forms related to the scheme in Jersey.

Settled status will be granted to applicants who have been continuously living in Jersey for a total of five years or more by 31 December 2020. Pre-settled status will be granted to those applicants who fulfil all the requirements of the application but have been living in Jersey for fewer than five years.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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