Millions of UK holidaymakers could have to pay £5.50 for permit to drive in EU after Brexit amid fears government won’t be able to cope with demand
- British motorists can currently use their normal licences when driving in the EU
- No agreement yet reached on continuing the arrangement after March next year
- Fears that millions will need to buy £5.50 permits and Post Office unable to cope
Millions of UK holidaymakers could have to pay £5.50 for permits to drive in the EU after Brexit – amid fears the government won’t be able to cope with demand.
A Whitehall watchdog has raised concerns about planning for failure to strike an agreement with Brussels before next March.
At the moment, British motorists can drive in the EU under their normal licences – but there is as yet no deal to keep mutual recognition in place.
A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) warns that the Department for Transport has not yet made ‘detailed plans’ for what happens if the talks fail.
At the moment, British motorists can drive in the EU under their normal licences – but there is as yet no deal to keep mutual recognition in place. Pictured are holidaymakers queuing at the Ferry Port at Dover
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It suggests people might need to obtain International Driving permits for the EU, in the same way as they do for countries like India, Egypt and Russia.
The IDPs cost £5.50 and last a year. Currently 89 Post Office branches issue around 100,000 annually.
However, officials estimate that the number of permits needed could soar to seven million in the first year after a no-deal Brexit. Some 4,500 Post Offices would need to start handing them out.
Where do UK motorists need an International Driving Permit?
The £5.50 international driving permits (IDPs) are required or recommended for Britons across much of the world.
They are recommended for those driving in the US as insurance companies may want to seen them in the case of an accident.
Motorists travelling in India, Egypt, Russian, Jordan, Japan and South Korea should have IDPs.
The report said: ‘The International Driving Permits (IDPs) project had not completed a business case or agreed detailed delivery plans.
‘The Department has asked the Post Office to submit detailed delivery plans, including for the training of staff, so as to be ready to issue IDPs by the end of January 2019.
The DfT told the auditors that the project is ‘deliverable’.
The watchdog also said further work is required to develop schemes such as managing traffic flow at Dover.
Ministers have ordered all departments to have fully planned contingencies in place in the event of the UK withdrawing from the European Union in March 2019 without an agreement.
The NAO concluded that the DfT has made a ‘determined effort’ to address the ‘significant and complex challenge’ of Brexit.
But it warned that the department ‘still has much to do’ and there is an increasing risk that projects will not be delivered on time.
Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said: ‘These are extraordinary times for the civil service and Government.
‘The department has achieved a great deal in its preparations but over the coming months it will, like many other departments, need to scramble to prepare for the UK’s EU exit, particularly if we are faced with a no deal scenario.’
The NAO noted that plans are still being finalised for Project Brock, a Highways England scheme to deal with lorry queues on roads to Dover for cross-Channel journeys.
Britons might need to obtain International Driving permits for the EU, in the same way as they do for the US and other countries
This will need to be ready by March when the UK leaves the EU, the watchdog said. The DfT told the NAO it is confident the project will be delivered on time.
The NAO also found that the DfT and the Department for Exiting the EU are measuring progress differently, with the DfT making a more cautious assessment on its work.
A Government spokesman said: ‘The NAO concludes that the department is making a determined effort to ensure the UK transport system is fully prepared for EU exit and acknowledges that the department has already achieved a great deal.
‘We have prioritised preparation for EU exit and royal assent of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill will be a significant step in this process.’
The Bill deals with a post-Brexit lorry licensing system in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The spokesman added: ‘Our work is part of wider Government preparations to ensure the UK can deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit, as we move from our current membership of the EU to our future partnership.’
So what would happen if we just walked away?
Leaving without a deal would mean an immediate Brexit on March 29 after tearing up a 21-month transition agreement. This included giving £39billion to the EU, which ministers would no longer have to pay, a House of Lords report claims.
The Chequers agreement effectively proposed keeping Britain in the single market for goods and agriculture to preserve ‘frictionless’ trade and protect the economy.
Customs checks on cross-Channel freight would cause havoc at ports, hitting food supplies and other goods.
Even Brexiteers admit to a big economic impact in the short term. Britain could waive customs checks on EU produce to free up backlogs, but would Brussels do the same?
All EU-UK trade in goods is free of tariffs in the single market.
Trade would revert to World Trade Organisation rules. The EU would charge import tariffs averaging 2-3 per cent on goods, but up to 60 per cent for some agricultural produce, damaging UK exporters.
We have a trade deficit with the EU of £71billion – they sell us more than we sell them – so the EU overall would lose out.
German cars and French agriculture would be worst hit, as would UK regions with large export industries. Tariffs could also mean price inflation. But UK trade with the EU is 13 per cent of GDP and falling compared to non-EU trade, which generates a surplus and is likely to grow. The outlook would be boosted by Britain’s ability to strike trade deals.
The UK would immediately have control over its borders and freedom to set migration policy on all EU migrants.
UK nationals would likely lose their right to live and work in the EU. There would be legal uncertainty for the 1.3million Britons living in the EU and the 3.7million EU nationals here.
CITY OF LONDON
Many firms have already made contingency plans for no deal, but there would probably be a significant degree of disruption and an economic hit.
Ministers would be likely to take an axe to tax and regulations to preserve the UK’s economic advantage.
Fears of planes not being able to fly appear far-fetched – unless the EU is determined to destroy both business and tourism. Rules to keep planes in the air are likely to be agreed. The EU has many deals with non-EU countries as part of its Open Skies regime.
Britain would be free from the edicts of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and all EU laws. Parliament would be sovereign.
FARMING & FISHING
THE UK would quit the Common Agricultural Policy, which gives farmers and landowners £3billion in subsidies. Ministers would come under pressure to continue a form of subsidy.
Northern Ireland would be outside the EU, with no arrangements on how to manage 300 crossing points on the 310-mile border.
The EU would want Ireland to impose customs and other checks to protect the bloc’s border – something it has said it will not do. No deal could blow a hole in the Good Friday Agreement, with pressure on all sides to find a compromise.
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