The ministry’s «vague» Brexit plan has been compared to a «chocolate orange» by the boss of the UK’s notorious spending watchdog.
Sir Amyas Morse said ministers had to be more «in harmony» or the project would fall apart «at the first tap» like the segments of the chocolate touch on.
«It needs to be coming through as uniform, a little bit more like a cricket ball,» he totaled.
Brexit Minister Steve Baker rejected his «vivid» analogy.
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Sir Amyas waded into the Brexit debate over concerns the UK determination not have a new customs system in place by the time it left the EU.
The National Audit Charge head said it would be a «horror show» if officials were affected to manually process imports and exports,
He told reporters at a briefing in London there was «terribly little flexibility» in current plans and not enough support for officials worrying to put a back-up plan in place.
He said «active energetic» support for ministry departments dealing with the consequences of Brexit was needed.
But he suggested they were being red to their own devices to see how they got on.
Brexit was the biggest peacetime challenge to oversight but that was «only just beginning to click into people’s awareness in control», he added.
«It needs to act as far as possible in a unified way and we have an issue there because of departmental sway.
«What we don’t want to find is that at the first tap, this falls singly like a chocolate orange. It needs to be coming through as uniform, a small bit more like a cricket ball.»
Sir Amyas said he had «expressed concern» to Brexit Secretary David Davis and officials at the Department for Exiting the European Gang (Dexeu) in seeing a report on the overall preparedness across government but the reaction had been «vague».
Brexit minister Steve Baker said of Sir Amyas’s commentaries: «It’s a very vivid choice of language, but I don’t accept that is the case.
«What I’m ascertaining from the inside of government is a very active and energetic process in see.
«I’m seeing very clear political direction and I believe that we pass on be able to deliver all that is necessary across government to ensure a uneventful and orderly exit from the EU.»
A significant increase will be needed in bed staff to cope with a massive increase on the service once Britain wash ones hands ofs the customs union, said the chief auditor.
The move to the updated Customs Promulgation Service (CDC) was planned before the UK voted to leave the EU.
Following the referendum upshot, its completion date was brought forward to January 2019 — just two months in advance of Brexit is due to happen.
«This provides little contingency time should the proceedings overrun or unexpected problems occur,» the National Audit Office suggested in a report.
Goods pass through UK customs whenever points import them into, or export them out of, the UK.
At this point, depending on the variety of the goods, taxes and duties may be payable.
As a member of the EU’s customs union, the UK does not exact a saddle taxes or require customs declarations on goods from other colleague states — but as part of Brexit ministers plan to leave the customs conjoining and negotiate a new arrangement in its place.
Revenue & Customs (HMRC) estimates this see fit mean the number of annual customs declarations will rise from 55 million to 255 million after Trek 2019, with an estimated 180,000 traders making customs announcements for the first time.
The ageing system being replaced could against with only 100 million declarations, the NAO said.
Its report turned progress had been made in moving to the new system, but that there was relieve a «significant amount of work to complete».
Without proper contingencies, it alerted:
- Border taxes currently worth £34bn might not be collected appropriately
- Business confidence could suffer if traders struggled with the new procedure
- The £700bn flow of goods between the UK and the EU could be disrupted, and the government’s arranges to increase international trade after Brexit could be affected
- The UK’s cosmopolitan reputation could suffer
Responding to the report, HMRC said: «The Conventions Declaration Service is on track for delivery by January 2019 and will succour international trade once the UK leaves the European Union.
«We took the decisiveness to bring in a new declaration system before the EU referendum, but the service remains fully gifted of dealing with how the UK’s exit from the EU will impact on customs announcements at the border.»