Brexit has so far mostly hiked costs, increased delays, British watchdog report says

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Feb. 9 (UPI) — Britain’s exit from the European Union two years ago has so far resulted mostly in higher costs, more bureaucracy and delays at the border, a public spending watchdog said in a report Wednesday.

The report by the Public Accounts Committee in British Parliament said that most of the promised benefits of leaving the alliance have not yet materialized.

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“The new controls in place over the movement of goods from the U.K. to the EU have created additional costs for businesses and affected international trade flows,” the committee said in its 27-page report.

“It is not yet clear to what extent the declines in U.K. trade with the EU since the end of the transition period have been caused by EU exit, or by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is clear is that U.K. businesses face additional administration and cost when trading with the EU.”

A majority of Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the EU and the exit, known informally as Brexit, occurred in January 2020.

Brexit’s new border control requirements are not yet fully implemented, and Wednesday’s report said the British government intends to introduce full import controls in phases between January and November.

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Public Accounts Committee Chair Meg Hillier of the opposition Labor Party said that, so far, there’s no evidence that Britain’s departure from the EU has improved productivity.

“One of the great promises of Brexit was freeing British businesses to give them the headroom to maximize their productivity and contribution to the economy – even more desperately needed now on the long road to recovery from the pandemic,” Hillier said in a statement.

“Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays.”

Wednesday’s report said the British government can do more to help small- and medium-sized companies face the additional costs and paperwork caused by the new border requirements.

The report also said that Britain and the EU have recognized that there are Brexit issues with the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Negotiations are ongoing to resolve the issues.