“Brexit – less of a car crash, more a multiple pile-up with fatalities”

Photo by Dan-Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash, coloured by ASAP Design

Here is an account of one business caught up in the explosion of red tape and failure by government to prepare adequately for the Brexit it has ‘delivered’. Ed.

Over the past 15 days I have not only been running my company as normal but I have been faced with largest threat to its future since it began in 1992. This is #Brexit & here is my thread on just how bad things are getting.

Six months ago my business started to prepare for Brexit. We obtained the following licences and accreditations JUST to maintain the status quo. EORI number, RORO badge for Chief, GBRC number, GBWK number, we already had ARWS and DAN accounts.

All of this took nearly five months a lot of form filling but on the 9th December this was all in place. So I would say whilst we knew Brexit would be a car crash we did not know it was going to be a multiple pile up in the fog with fatalities.

On January 4th I returned to work being wise enough to have stockpiled just enough so that if we had a bumpy ride in January we would have enough stock to last until February.

I should add this took a considerable amount of cash flow and management to do this during a lockdown/ pandemic combined with Xmas sales. But we managed.

On my Return in January I started to use Chief for the very first time. It was not possible to use this system prior to Brexit or necessary as it was very simple to move stock in the EU with minimal fuss and delay with the EMCS system.

It’s fair to say it worked like clockwork after 40 years of tweaks to get the system just right. But in Brexit Britain we are very much on our own & so this British system (CHIEF) has now got every product the U.K. consumes in its grasp.

However the problem with CHIEF is that it was built decades ago and was never designed to handle EU imports too! Why would leave a system (EMCS) that works for one that does not?

A CHIEF declaration (C88) has up to 65 boxes to complete. Some of these are very simple like excise number and parties involved on the import. So basic stuff. Others however are very vague codes. 9/26

CHIEF is there for the Government to collect tax, that is its primary purpose. It’s not there to aid businesses. It definitely hinders business. On this point no debate is required. Most of the other boxes are codes that have zero meaning .

Now unbeknown to me until January all hauliers use secondary software to over write onto CHIEF because is so hard to use. There is currently a 4 month waiting list for new installations of this software which costs £2K all in.

I have been imputing directly to CHIEF which I should add costs £157 per month to be able to access. Yes thats right folks you have to pay to tell the government how much your going to pay them. The first Brexit dividend.

Now after 14 days I finally complete my first C88 declaration but noticed I was paying the 3rd countries tariff. Odd I thought to myself I am sure just three weeks ago the U.K. signed an FTA with the EU to make all goods tariff free. So I used my contacts to find out more. 13/26

Now you would think that government would want to make using CHIEF as easy as possible as now there are millions of businesses having to use it. 14/26

So you would think that a call centre would be a good idea right? No wrong, this is the ONLY HMRC system where there is no number to call. Just an email with a 5 day turn around. Remember that when government say they are doing all they can to help.

So with the knowledge that government are not interested in making Brexit easy for businesses and in many cases businesses are just trying to survive, we have ploughed on regardless.

Again you would think if there is a FTA, CHIEF would apply it to all imports from that area/ country right? Wrong you have to claim it. Unbelievable!

Claiming a tariff free status was yesterday’s game with CHIEF. To be fair deep in the CHIEF files I found the notes to apply the codes to the system required (U 110 followed by AP for example) but problem is after triple checking, CHIEF has not been updated properly.

So once again I can’t import wine via my own means until I wait for CHIEF staff( normally five working days) for them to advise how to correct the problem and complete the declaration correctly tariff free.

So what does this all mean for the consumers? Well to supply the U.K. the exporter need to get a Rex document to prove the origin of their stock to the U.K. government (again, unbelievable).

Then with all the additional costs in Paperwork, time wasted, government fees to tell the government how much your paying them and delays in the supply chain it’s obvious price are upward bound.

So this is why I have been saying wine per bottle on retail will increase by at least £1 per bottle for mass market products, for niche small batch wines your looking at £1.50 or even £2.00 on the bottle prices. There’s another of those Brexit dividends.

This government have cocked up Brexit from day one. But I am now 100% sure that choice will reduce dramatically, price will increase dramatically, delays with increase dramatically and the U.K. wide depression is inevitable, and still the government couldn’t give a toss.

It’s why I will leave this country next year once my kids have finished their education. I am lucky and have a second nationality within the EU thanks to my father.

But for those that can’t leave I understand why you are angry and with what I can see your about have a lot more taken away from you than just freedom of movement.

The Tory party is no longer the Tory party. It is UKIP that has assumed control of the Tory party. Their goal is clear, to commit economic vandalism and social vandalism on the U.K. whilst ensuring they get considerably wealthier. That is very sad for what was a great country.

I would just like to say a massive thank-you for all the kind words following my thread. Over 1.2M people have read it so far. I just hope people now understand the pain all importers are dealing with. I hope it gets better but I have doubts. Keep safe.

Originally tweeted by Daniel Lambert (Wines). 🇪🇺🇫🇷🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🍇🥂 (@DanielLambert29) on 16/01/2021.