UK has dramatic shortage of customs staff needed for no-deal Brexit, say reports

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The UK has a dramatic shortage of customs agents – the people who will process goods and vehicles during a no-deal Brexit – according to BBC and Telegraph journalists.


Telegraph Europe Editor Peter Foster says that figures in industry have told him we currently have 2,000 customs clearing agents. In a no-deal scenario, which seems to be Boris Johnson’s favourite Brexit route, we will need 20,000.

This has been confirmed by Faisal Islam, the BBC’s new Economics Editor. He claims the government knows there is a “very significant” shortage of customs agents, with at least 10,000 needed.

If we leave the European Union without a deal, we will rupture from the single market and customs union – the mechanisms that allow goods to flow freely between different countries within the bloc. As a result, customs checks will almost certainly have to be put in place – to ensure our goods comply with EU rules, and vice versa.

Without customs agents, we will find it very difficult to conduct these checks quickly and efficiently.

It’s no wonder, then, that the former CEO of Sainsbury’s has predicted a no-deal Brexit will cause “significant gaps” on shelves “within a week”.

Boris claims all we need is “optimism” to make a success of no deal. It seems we need a lot more than optimism to (at the very least) prevent economic armageddon. Some customs agents would be a good start.

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