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Brexit: No deal could mean ‘longer queues’ at borders

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ISLANDERS holding British passports can expect ‘longer queues’ and tougher border checks when entering France if the UK leaves the EU on bad terms, the External Relations Minister has said.

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Yesterday, Senator Ian Gorst’s department released details of its planning assumptions in the case of a no deal Brexit, following a similar move in the UK which published its ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ document earlier this week.

The minister moved to reassure Islanders that plans were in place to deal with any worst-case scenarios in Jersey, such as shortages of food or medical supplies.

Commenting on the matter of immigration, Senator Gorst said that enhanced border checks when entering EU countries were a real possibility for holders of British passports issued either in the UK or Jersey, in the case of no deal.

‘It is reasonable to expect that EU member states will increase the security of their borders,’ he said.

‘We have seen that the UK is very keen that this is not the case and they just want to wave people through when they enter their ports from the EU.

‘But we don’t know whether this will be the case in EU countries. If there is an awkward Brexit it seems reasonable that they may apply greater checks.

‘In terms of France, Paris has to follow what Brussels says, and while the authorities in Normandy and Brittany would like greater freedom, their hands will be tied.

‘What this will mean is when people from Jersey with British passports want to pop over to St Malo they would face longer queues at the border.

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‘That may involve security checks, which in the longer term would be replaced by something more bureaucratic.’

Operation Yellowhammer outlined that as many as 85% of freight trucks crossing the English Channel may not be ready for the new French customs regime, which could cause delays to supply routes.

Senator Gorst said that whether routes will be disrupted by no deal will depend on the level of ‘pragmatism’ different authorities decide to adopt to deal with the matter.

The minister said that plans to extend the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organisation to Jersey should be signed off within the next few weeks, which would entitle Jersey to trade on a lower tariff basis in the case of no deal.

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He added, however, that it would ‘not be the end of the world’ if this was not in place in time for Brexit.

Senator Gorst confirmed that discussions have been held with a number of retailers concerning stockpiling food at a number of locations in the Island.

A government spokesman said that Islanders would again be advised to stock up sensibly in the case of a no deal Brexit, having been told ahead of the previous Brexit deadline in March to prepare like they would for a long bank holiday weekend.

He added that this time Islanders should stock up ‘a little bit more than that’ due to the time of year and that the range of goods available in the Island could become more limited.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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