Rishi Sunak is poised to introduce tax cuts and an overhaul of planning laws in up to 10 new deregulated freeports in a bid to boost the economy after Brexit.
The chancellor is reportedly planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become freeports – where UK taxes and tariffs will not apply – in his autumn Budget.
The ports will be “fully operational” within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
The report came as the government announced £700m is to be spent on building new infrastructure, hiring staff and developing technology to ensure Britain’s border systems are fully operational when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said 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 in December.
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 get one-off financial support to ensure the right infrastructure is in place.
Of the £235m for staffing and IT systems:
The funding relates only to the implementation of Britain’s border with the EU, and the government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.
Mr Gove said: “We are taking back control of our borders, and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare . . . . .
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