Brexit Is Back: UK Aims to Prepare Public for Jan. 1 EU Break

LONDON—The British government told individuals and businesses on July 13 to get ready for new costs and red tape—but also an exciting “new start”—when the UK leaves the European Unions economic embrace in less than six months.

The government unveiled details of new border arrangements and a major public information campaign to remind Britons that Brexit has not gone away, even though it has been knocked out of the headlines by the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain officially left the EU on Jan. 31 but remains inside the blocs economic orbit until the end of 2020.

Advertisements under the “The UKs new start: lets get going” campaign will warn British tourists that starting Jan. 1 theyll need to buy health insurance, arrange paperwork for their pets and check their telephone providers roaming policy when they travel to the EU.

Companies that do business with the 27-nation bloc—which accounts for about half of Britains trade—will have to fill in customs declarations and potentially pay tariffs, depending on the outcome of talks about a post-Brexit free-trade deal.

The British government has softened the blow for importers by saying they would not have to complete full customs declarations or pay tariffs for the first six months of next year.

Even with a deal, the UK will need a vast new customs and border infrastructure to deal with a trade that has flowed unimpeded during the UKs 47 years as a member of the European bloc. The government announced on July 13 that it plans to spend 705 million pounds ($890 million) on new border posts, computer systems, and personnel.

Prime Minister Boris Johnsons Conservative government says the burdens of Brexit will be offset by new economic opportunities as the UK strikes fresh trade deals around the world.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who is in charge of Brexit preparations, said the full break with the bloc “will herald changes and significant opportunities, for which we all need to prepare.”

Britain and the EU have given themselves until the end of the year to strike a deal on trade, security, and a host of other issues.

But negotiations have bogged down amid wide differences on major issues including fishing rights and competition. Even with a deal, the UK faces new barriers to business with the EU. Without one, it faces an abrupt, disruptive departure that would hammer many businesses, and with the UK economy already hammered by COVID-19.

One major change will be the end of Britons freedom to live and work anywhere in the EU, and of Europeans right to settle in the UK.

More than 3 million EU citizens currently living in the UK are entitled to stay. But from Jan. 1, 2021, new immigration rules will apply to EU and non-EU citizens alike.

Britain is introducing a “points-based” immigration system that will assess prospective immigrants on criteria including English-language ability, having a job offer from an approved employer, and meeting a minimum salary threshold.

The system is designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from the beginning of next year but also aims to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

Johnson said it would be “a humane and sensible system” that allows the UK to attract the best talent from around the globe.

“Although of course we are going to be taking back control and we are controlling our immigration system were not going to be simply slamming the gates and stopping anybody anywhere coming into this country,” he said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced new details of the system on July 13, including a special fast-track visa for health care workers.

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