In the run up to 25th December, there is one issue that has not received half the attention it deserves: what happens to Father Christmas in December 2019 in the event of a no deal Brexit?
The Europe leg of his trip is among his fastest and easiest. As citizen of a member state (Finland) he is able to whiz around the EU28 dropping off presents unimpeded by tariffs, quotas, veterinary checks, visas or permits.
With a worldwide remit, and a narrow window in which to deliver his wares, additional friction and delays could prove costly. Even though reduced friction elsewhere—as a result of the recently signed free trade agreement between the EU and Japan, and the upgrade to the EU-Mexico trade agreement—probably buys him a couple of extra seconds, this would probably not be enough to compensate for the minutes and hours spent navigating the UK border and additional bureaucracy in a no deal scenario.
What’s worse is the uncertainty, when you run as tight an operation as Santa, not knowing how long something is going to take is often worse than a predictable long delay. A non-exhaustive list of issues Father Christmas will need to take into account in the event of no deal would include the following.
Tariffs would now be levied on certain presents when they enter the UK, whereas they were not before. For example, Jimmy from Essex’s Italian leather shoes (which he had been eyeing up all year) would be subject to an 8 per cent tariff. Usually the importer pays the tariff, so Santa would be faced with a dilemma: whether to pay the tariff himself out of his own pocket, or invoice Jimmy, which wouldn’t be a very Christmassy thing to do.
Father Christmas, as the authorised carrier of the presents into the UK, will need to present a customs declaration and a safety and security declaration to UK customs officials. This is just a taste of the new admin and paperwork needed. He will also need to register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, so as to be allowed to export presents to the UK.
In the event of no deal, all imports of live animals from the EU will need to enter the UK’s territory…