Why the Brexit solution to the Northern Ireland border is so crucial to business

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Northern Ireland border

Many people are understandably confused by the phrase a ‘No-Deal Brexit’ and imagine it means no change to current arrangements. Unfortunately, the opposite is likely to be the case, as the Northern Ireland Freight Transport Association Tweets here when it comes to the Irish border.

In the event of a No-Deal Brexit, the Northern Ireland border will become a new border for the EU. Physical barriers of some sort will, therefore, probably need to be restored to protect the integrity of the EU’s Single Market and stop smuggling. The Northern Ireland Freight Transport Association has analysed the likely impact on the main A1 Newry- N1 Dundalk border road. They use the comparison of the Sweden/Norway border, where the average delay for trucks is ten minutes because although Norway is in the EU Single Market, it is not in the Customs Union. They then describe how the main A1 Newry/N1 Dundalk border road, currently a friction-less efficient strategic road, might change following Brexit:

  • Over the 24hr period of Wednesday 5 June 2019, 8,390 Goods Vehicles crossed the border.  4,022 (avg 167 per hour) went into Ireland  (avg 1 every 35 seconds)
  • Approx 1,300  carried agri-food, which would be subject to Sanitary/PhytoSanitary checks (SPS)
  • In morning peak time from 06.00 – 09.00, this equates to 347 lorries carrying agri-food, or one every 32 seconds
  • SPS checks would involve stopping for Document & Identity checks, with up to 50% physical inspections
  • SPS checks can last 10 – 30 mins, a lot longer if tests required
  • If an A1/N1 Border Inspection Post has a 1 hour delay for traffic at peak times, then within that hour there could be a backlog of 70 Goods Vehicles awaiting processing
  • This is where problems get even worse: – a queue of 70 trucks on the A1 would be over 1km long – the running cost for a HGV is £1 per minute
  • The delivery window for perishable goods to Distribution Centres is 45 minutes“

Many farmers might go out of business if SPS checks became normal on 1 November.  Similarly, as Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt admitted on Sunday, a No-Deal Brexit would risk bankrupting many businesses across the UK, as they lose the ability to trade freely with the 27 countries in the EU.

A No-Deal Brexit is becoming more and more likely on 31 October. As the rhetoric over No Deal ramps up, so does the necessity of trying to understand how you might mitigate this risk for your business.

If you haven’t already so, download the Ready for Brexit checklist, use our Brexsure Brexit audit tool to check how ready your supply chain is for Brexit and finally make use of our No-Deal Brexit action planner. These tools are designed to ensure that your business is as ready as can be to successfully navigate Brexit.

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