Freeports aren’t a reason for Brexit

by Hugo Dixon | 25.11.2019

Claim: “From freeports to free trade deals… we will be able to do things differently and better.”

Boris Johnson, Conservative Party manifesto

The party “will create up to ten freeports around the UK, benefiting some of our most deprived communities.”

Conservative Party manifesto

InFact: We don’t need to leave the EU to establish freeports. The EU currently has more than 80 of them. 

Whether it would be wise to create freeports is another matter. Margaret Thatcher tried it in the early 1980s – at a time when we were very much in the EU – and it failed. We had five free ports until the domestic statutory instrument governing them expired in 2012, according to a House of Commons Library report.

Freeports were identified as a potential money laundering threat, in a recent EU report. It warned that they facilitate the movement of fake goods, as they “allow counterfeiters to land consignments, adapt or otherwise tamper with loads or associated paperwork, and then re-export products without customs intervention”. 

Freeports open a potential backdoor route for tax evaders, smugglers and money launderers. Far better to stay in the EU and help lead the global fight against money laundering.

This is an adaptation of an earlier piece

The headline was updated on December 4

Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: Categories: UK Politics

2 Responses to “Freeports aren’t a reason for Brexit”

  • I believe Freeport’s were actually tried in the 1980s, but were not a success. Johnson is clearly scraping the bottom of his extremely squalid barrel.

  • Problem is that the average brexiteer hasn’t a clue what Freeports are, what they’re for and how they function. More importantly, even Freeports need vessels to come in with cargo that needs destinations. Cut your ties with the EU and at least half your destinations either fall away or become uninteresting as the EU now is going to thoroughly check the containers before allowing them in. And dodgy destinations in Africa and South America are a mite too far away to make English freeports commercially interesting to the sort of trade that makes use of them. Easy to see for anyone except brexiteers and Johnson.