David Davis fumes as UK fined £2.3bn by EU 3 years after Brexit

Michel Barnier speaks on third anniversary on Brexit

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Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has issued a furious criticism of the European Union after the UK was fined £2.3billion following a customs dispute with the bloc. The European Court of Justice found the UK had been negligent when it allowed criminal gangs to flood the bloc with cheap Chinese goods. The Haltemprice and Howdeny MP said the judgement is “one more validation of the reasons we have left the European Union”.

He said he is “not remotely persuaded” that the decision was a “fair judgement”.

The UK formally left the EU on January 31, 2020.

But Brussels claimed the UK had failed to prevent undervaluation fraud involving importations of Chinese textiles and footwear between November 2011 and October 2017.

In a judgement published on March 8, 2022, the ECJ found against the UK on most liability points.

But John Glen, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the UK has argued throughout the case that it took “appropriate steps” to counter the fraud in question.

He said, since the legal proceedings were launched, the UK has taken “proportionate and increased steps to combat” the issue, including by “liquidating suspect traders through enforcement action”.

Mr Glen added: “The UK takes a comprehensive and dynamic approach to tackling customs fraud risk and evolves its responses as any new potential threats emerge.”

The ECJ ruled against Britain in March 2022, with the final payment made to the EU on February 6, 2023.

Mr Glen said the “substantial sums” will “draw a line under this long-running case, with the UK fulfilling its international obligations”.

Hitting out at the EU, Mr Davis told the Daily Express: “I find it very hard to believe that HMRC has done a less good job of dealing with attempted undervaluation for imports than let us say Belgium or Italy or Spain or any other European country.

“This strikes me as yet one more validation of the reasons we have left the European Union.

“Whilst it is understandable that the Treasury wants to put these things behind us, I am not remotely persuaded that this was a fair judgement.”

The fine paid on February 6 is separate from the UK’s Brexit “Divorce Bill”, which sees the UK make a series of payments to the European Union, as part of the deal to leave the bloc.

Originally, the settlement was estimated to be about £39billion.

Some of this was paid as the UK continued to make its regular contributions to the EU budget throughout 2020, under the terms of the deal.

From January 2021, the estimated bill was £25bn left to pay by 2057, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), almost £18bn of which will be paid in the first five years.

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