While Brexit presented “potentially transformative” opportunities for the food and agricultural sectors, a no-deal scenario’s impact on exports “worries me the most”, Gove told an the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee evidence session on 28 November.
While remaining “relatively confident” that ports such as Ostend, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam would collaborate very constructively with the UK, Gove believed there was a particular challenge between Dover and Calais.
‘Border inspection post’
“There’s no border inspection post yet in place in Calais,” he said. “We would hope that the French authorities would erect one quickly, but obviously that’s a decision for them and not one we could control.
“It would be strongly in the interests of the port, those it employs, and the economy of France, for [the French authorities] to act quickly in the event of a no-deal scenario becoming imminent, for them to be as collaborative as possible.”
Imports unchecked at borders
In contrast, Gove conceded that EU imports into the UK could go unchecked at borders “potentially, for a period of months”, should a no-deal Brexit occur.
However, he reminded the EFRA committee that “we let everything through at the moment”, adding that any EU imports would still be “subject to all the checks and all the rules that are currently in place, as required by the EU”.