Belfast Telegraph

Post-Brexit open customs border not possible: report

By John Downing

A completely open customs border will not be possible after Brexit, the Republic's Revenue Commissioners have warned.

The sheer scale of the challenge faced by businesses in the south, as well as customs officials, is laid bare in their unpublished report, leaked to the media.

The Revenue Commissioners give a flavour of the kind of physical changes - many requiring big investment - required to maintain customs controls after Brexit.

The Revenue would need a big increase in staffing levels, but a huge burden of paperwork, delays and costs would fall on traders themselves.

The report details the need for more staff and customs controls at ports and airports. It continues that extra personnel will be needed at An Post too, in order to check parcels coming in from the UK.

Even the Ploughing Championships will be hit, since heavy equipment brought over from the UK will need to be declared.

Ships plying their trade between the UK and Irish Republic will also no longer be able to benefit from the arrangements currently in place, leading to additional compliance costs.

Fianna Fail Brexit spokesperson, Stephen Donnelly, hit out at the leaking of the report, saying it showed that elements within the government were more interested in "playing party politics" than preparing for Brexit.

"The leaking of this report shows that there are some within government who are unwilling to share critical pieces of analyses with the Oireachtas at a time when the risks to our country's future economic prosperity have never been so grave.

"My colleagues and I have consistently requested, from a variety of government departments, to see reports of this nature, and we have been stonewalled," Mr Donnelly said.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said he could not understand the government keeping this Revenue Commissioners' analysis to itself.

"The report should be published, with redactions if necessary, over the coming days," said Mr Howlin.

A spokesperson for the Republic's Department of Finance said the report was an internal working paper prepared immediately after the Brexit vote.

It was never finalised as a Revenue report.

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