A 705 million pounds ($889 million) funding package to help manage the UK’s borders has been announced as the country prepares to leave the EU customs union at the end of the year, a media report said on Sunday.
The BBC report said that the new funding will include up to 470 million pounds to build port and inland infrastructure, and 235 million pounds will be allocated for IT systems and staffing.
The plans also include new border control posts and 500 extra Border Force staff.
This relates only to the external borders of England, Scotland and Wales.
The government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.
The UK left the European Union (EU) on January 31 and is now in an 11-month transition period, during which existing trading rules and membership of the customs union and single market apply.
What the UK’s relationship with the EU will look like when the transition period ends will depend on whether a trade deal is reached.
Customs checks on EU goods will be delayed until July 2021.
Responding to the development, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the move would help the UK “seize the opportunities” post-Brexit, the BBC reported.
“With or without further agreement with the EU, this 705 million pounds will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.”
The announcement of the package comes after a leaked letter suggested that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss had expressed concerns about the government’s plans to phase in checks on EU goods coming into the UK after the Brexit transition period.
Truss reportedly warned fellow ministers that failing to impose full border controls until July could see increased smuggling from the EU, lead to legal challenges at the World Trade Organization, and even weaken the union with Northern Ireland.