The vast majority of imports would not be tariffed if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the government has announced.
Under the temporary measures, 87% of all goods coming into the UK would do so without a tariff, up from 80% currently.
The government has today (Wednesday) published plans for a no-deal Brexit ahead of tonight’s vote in the House of Parliament. MPs will vote on whether or not to rule out leaving the EU without a deal after rejecting Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement by a majority of 149 last night.
The government has said tariffs would remain in place in order to protect some key industries such as cars, agriculture, beef, lamb, poultry and some areas of dairy.
The new system of tariffs will shift focus to encouraging tariffs from non-EU countries. Currently, as part of the single market, all imports from the EU are tariff-free, but if the UK leaves without a deal, 18% of imports will be tariffed. At the moment, 56% imports from non-EU countries are tariff-free, but that will rise to 92%.
Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery said: “Our priority is securing a deal with the EU as this will avoid disruption to our global trading relationships. However, we must prepare for all eventualities.”
He added: “This balanced approach will help to support British jobs and avoid potential price spikes that would hit the poorest households the hardest.”
However, many have criticised the measures announced by the government. Despite recognising that some areas of British industry had been protected, Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The abruptness of changes to tariff rates in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU would be an unwelcome shock to many of the businesses affected.”
The government also announced that it will not introduce any new check on the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This will be a temporary measure, however, as the UK continues to negotiate a long-term solution. Tariffs will be imposed on goods arriving to the rest of the UK through Northern Ireland.