Britain will “pay the price” of a no-deal Brexit because complicated new border controls may not be ready in time, a government watchdog has warned.
Thousands of UK exporters did not have enough time to prepare for new border rules, the National Audit Office said.
Criminal gangs could exploit any border weaknesses and queues and delays were likely at border crossings, it added.
The government said it was confident of striking a “good” deal with the EU for as “frictionless” trade as possible.
It said that plans were already 95% complete.
The National Audit Office acknowledged that government had made some progress on preparing for the possibility of a “hard” Brexit.
It is the official body charged with scrutinising the operation of government departments and reporting to MPs so that they can hold the government to account.
Its head, Sir Amyas Morse, said: “The government has openly accepted the border will be sub-optimal if there is no deal with the EU on 29 March 2019.
“It is not clear what sub-optimal means in practice, or how long this will last.
“But what is clear is that businesses and individuals who are reliant on the border running smoothly will pay the price.”
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