The managing director of one of the country’s leading providers of official veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors has strongly criticised the UK government’s decision to further delay checks on goods entering Great Britain from the European Union.

Yesterday, in a Parliamentary Written Statement, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove announced that health certificates on EU imports such as meat and milk will not be needed before October, having previously said that these would be required from April 1.

He also admitted that in-person inspections on such animal products, which were due to start in July, will not begin before January 2022.

In a statement, Diederick Opperman, managing director of HallMark Veterinary and Compliance Services, said that Gove’s announcement had placed his company in "an extremely perilous position."

'We now know this not to be true'

Opperman commented:

"Michael Gove and his colleagues now at the top of government assured us that they had a plan to deliver a Brexit that would be in the best interests of our country. We now know this not to be true.

Unlike our political masters, the veterinary sector has prepared long and hard for the post-Brexit period including the introduction of checks on meat and dairy imports from the EU.

"That has included the recruitment of significant numbers of professionally trained staff and paying for them to be ready to begin work in a matters of weeks.

"And then, without consultation, Gove slips out an announcement which has left HallMark in an extremely perilous position because the work we promised to our new team members has been taken away.

"Based on past experience of this government, I also have no confidence in any commitments ministers make in relation to future start dates."

'It truly is an appalling situation'

Opperman continued:

"It truly is an appalling situation and amounts to a betrayal of vets and, indeed, the government’s supposed Brexit ideal.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove promised the British people that Brexit enabled the UK to take back control of its borders.

"In truth and for reasons of political expediency, they have chosen to throw our regulatory borders open.

"We will be writing to Michael Gove to seek a meeting and ask when he intends to come up with a plan that sticks and what he expects me to tell my vets in the interim," he concluded.