Why A £24m 'Brexit White Elephant' May Be Torn Down Without Ever Being Used

Another blow for Rishi Sunak's time in office.
Another blow for Brexiter and PM Rishi Sunak.
Another blow for Brexiter and PM Rishi Sunak.
CARL RECINE via Getty Images

A Brexit border control facility may end be torn down before it has ever been used, according to reports, in yet another blow to Rishi Sunak.

A post at Portsmouth International Port, which cost £24m to develop, may no longer be suitable to deal with imports from the EU because of changes to border protocol – meaning it could become commercially unviable to run.

Designed to carry out checks on up to 80 loaded trucks bringing in food and plant imports, it may now only have to process four or five loads a day, Sky News reports.

Only half of the 14 loading bays may be used, and the annual running costs of £800,000 a year will not be covered by the fees charged to importers.

It was constructed with a £17m central government grant a £7m from Portsmouth City Council which owns the port, but government specifications have changed five times since the post was first built.

Fewer checks are now required, so it will probably run at an unsustainable loss – which why it could be demolished for something more commercially viable.

It has therefore been branded Brexit “white elephant” by transport lead for Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jones – a term for something costing a lot to run which generates little profit.

And it may not be the only one, either.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told Sky it spent £200,000 part-funding new Brexit border control facilities at 41 ports.

Now fewer checks are needed, the government says ports can use the spare space.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told the broadcaster: “Our border control posts have sufficient capacity and capability, including for temperature controlled consignments, to handle the volume and type of expected checks and the authorities will be working to minimise disruption as these checks are introduced.”

This discovery is another bit of bad news for the beleaguered prime minister Sunak, especially as his government has been repeatedly accused of squandering public cash in recent years.


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