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Duty free sales must return after Brexit, say MPs Charlie Elphicke and Craig Mackinlay

Duty free sales on travel to and from Europe must return after Brexit, both the Dover and Thanet South MPs say.

Charlie Elphicke and Craig Mackinlay are among 40 Conservative MPs who have signed a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond.

They want duty free to be reinstated for trips to European Union countries from March 29, 2019, the UK’s leaving date.

Dover Eastern Docks
Dover Eastern Docks

Duty free sales between Britain and member states were axed by the EU in 1999 and since then have only applied on trips outside Europe.

The letter, organised by Mr Elphicke, says bringing back duty free will boost regional economies like Dover and Deal in his constituency.

Mr Elphicke said: “The return of duty free would deliver a real boost to Britain. The benefits would be felt across the nation – particularly in coastal communities and regional airports. Bringing back duty free would be a real boost to the ferry industry at ports from Dover to Holyhead – as well as regional airports from Aberdeen to the East Midlands.”

MP Charlie Elphicke says it is unfair for anyone to be in his position
MP Charlie Elphicke says it is unfair for anyone to be in his position

Mr Elphicke said the return could also boost UK cruise ship ports. By having one non-EU stopover on a cruise, the entire journey becomes duty and tax free for passengers.

Mr Mackinlay, South Thanet MP, said: “I want people to be able to purchase duty free goods while travelling between the UK and the EU after Brexit. As our letter to the Chancellor makes clear, if the government fails to ensure the return of duty free sales, UK citizens would be in the position that EU passengers to the UK would be able to buy duty free goods – yet UK passengers travelling to the EU will not.

“Given that duty free applies to travel to the rest of the world it would make no sense for it not to apply to Europe.”

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

The MPs’ letter says: “These changes need to be made in good time in order to give operators time to be ready on day one of Brexit.

“We understand that preparations could take up to nine months for ferry firms and airport operators.”

Only minor amendments on VAT, excise duty and excise goods are required to reintroduce duty free, according to industry experts.

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