UK says to bring back duty-free booze if no-deal Brexit

British finance minister Sajid Javid said the move would "help holidaymakers' cash go that little bit further".
British finance minister Sajid Javid said the move would "help holidaymakers' cash go that little bit further".PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Britons returning home from European Union countries will no longer have to pay taxes on alcohol and tobacco products bought on the continent in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government announced Tuesday (Sept 10).

The British government will also forego taxes on similar products travelling in the opposite direction in an attempt to give the tourism sector a boost should the country leave the EU without a deal, finance minister Sajid Javid announced.

The EU abolished duty-free shopping between member nations in 1999, saying it was incompatible with the single market.

The government estimates that a bottle of wine purchased in an airport duty free on the way to the EU after Brexit could be up to 2.23 pounds (S$3.80) cheaper.

At the point of leaving the EU, travellers to Britain would still be able to bring home unlimited alcohol and cigarettes if they pay duty on it in the country of origin, as is the case currently.

But they would also have the option of buying limited amounts of duty-free alcohol and cigarettes at duty-free shops in Europe, said the government.

"We want people to enjoy their hard-earned holidays and this decision will help holidaymakers' cash go that little bit further," said Mr Javid.

 
 

The move was considered by previous prime minister Theresa May, when it was estimated that it would cost the Treasury between 150 million pounds to 200 million pounds a year.

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke said that the move would help coastal towns such as Dover, which he represents.

"This will deliver a big boost for tourism - helping our coastal communities and ferry industry after Brexit," he told the Sun newspaper.

Coastal communities such as Dover had some of the highest proportions of Brexit votes in the country in the 2016 referendum.

The return of duty-free could herald a boom in the so-called 'booze cruises' popular in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Duty-free shopping is already permitted for travellers going to non-EU countries.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is battling to take Britain out of the EU, with or without a deal, but is currently deadlocked with his MPs, who have passed a law that could force him to extend the current October 31 Brexit deadline.