In the wake of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, new border checks have been implemented, causing additional costs and challenges for small businesses.
These new arrangements, which came into effect today, affect the import of plants, animals, and food from the continent. Many companies have expressed concerns about the significant increase in costs and the potential threat to their long-term sustainability.
During a recent interview on Sky News, Health Minister Andrea Leadsom, a prominent supporter of Brexit during the 2016 referendum, faced tough questioning from Kay Burley regarding these changes.
Burley highlighted the case of a florist who can no longer afford to purchase flowers from Holland due to the additional checks and costs. This led her to ask, “I thought Brexit was done? So what’s happening?”
Leadsom acknowledged that leaving the single market meant increased checks at the borders, which had been known since the decision to leave the EU was made in 2016.
However, she emphasized that since Brexit, the UK has been able to sign up to 70 trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is expected to drive up to 50% of global growth in the coming decades.
While the UK continues to trade extensively with the EU, Leadsom pointed out that new opportunities have opened up for UK businesses in terms of imports and exports. She argued that businesses always face the cost of doing business and that the additional checks at the border were not unexpected.
Burley countered by highlighting the government’s admission that the extra border checks would cost British firms £330 million annually.
The health minister responded by stating that businesses must adapt to the changing environment and that this was not the first time businesses had adjusted their trading arrangements with the EU due to various frictions.
The conversation then turned to the impact on small businesses, with Burley mentioning a florist who could not afford flowers from Holland due to the associated checks. She asked Leadsom what she would say to individuals like this florist.
The minister responded by referring to her previous experience with constituency cases and emphasized the need for businesses to adapt to the changing environment. The exchange between Burley and Leadsom highlights the challenges faced by small businesses as a result of the new border checks.
While the government argues that leaving the EU has opened up new trade opportunities, it is clear that there are immediate and tangible costs for businesses, particularly those that rely on imports from the continent.
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