Next to the container terminal at Portsmouth International Port, there is a new hi-tech border control post. It was built over the past 18 months at a cost of £25 million. The high-specification facility should be in its inaugural week of use, handling post-Brexit checks on imports of animal, plant and forestry products arriving from the EU. However, the structure stands empty following the government’s decision in April to delay, probably for good, the introduction of physical inspections of fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and plants from the EU.
The facility was completed before the government’s previous and much-delayed start date of 1 July for the new border measures. The government is now working on a new operating model for imports – due to be published in the autumn and come into effect at the end of 2023 – following the announcement by the Brexit opportunities minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the end of April that all checks and paperwork at the border would be digitized.