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Labour demands answers after leaked letter reveals ‘chaos' over the government's Brexit border preparations

LABOUR has accused the government of “complacency, chaos and confusion” following the leak of a letter about its Brexit border preparations.

The letter from International Trade Secretary Liz Truss to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, sent last Wednesday, reveals that many questions remain unanswered, despite there being less than six months to go before the transition period in Britain’s EU withdrawal expires at the end of this year.

It also reveals serious concern among Cabinet ministers at the current lack of preparedness, Labour said.

Shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves called on the government give a statement to the Commons explaining and addressing the concerns exposed by the leaked letter.

She said: “This leaked letter lifts the lid on a growing sense of chaos and confusion between Cabinet ministers at the government’s complacent approach to vital preparations ahead of December 31.

“There is growing alarm from the business communities in Northern Ireland and increasingly in Britain that ministers aren’t being entirely open about the state of preparations.

“These issues will affect countless businesses and jobs and are simply far too important to be left to written correspondence like this.”

Ms Reeves said that the “extraordinary” letter also shows that the industries and people who stand to be affected “if the government gets this badly wrong” deserve answers.

Meanwhile, the government announced that more than £700 million is to be spent on building new infrastructure, hiring staff and developing technology to ensure that Britain’s border systems are fully operational after Brexit.

Mr Gove claimed the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to “manage the changes and seize the opportunities” when the transition period ends.

The £705m package includes £235m for staffing and IT systems and £470m for port and inland infrastructure to ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls.

New border infrastructure will be built inland where there is no space at ports, while ports will receive an undisclosed one-off  support payment to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place.

The funding relates only to the implementation of the British-EU border, but the government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.

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