Britain would slash tariffs on the vast majority of goods entering the country in a no-deal scenario, the government has confirmed.
Ministers announced that 87% of all goods entering the country would face zero tariffs, with import taxes remaining for only 13% of incoming goods.
Sky News reported last week that the scale of the tariff line reduction would be 80-90%.
The plan, which would represent a significant liberalisation of UK trade barriers compared with its current tariff schedule, would be temporary and would exclude a selection of sensitive imports, including some agricultural products such as beef, lamb, pork and some dairy, as well as car imports and some other products.
The vast majority of exports will be tariff free.
Trade minister George Hollingbery said: “If we leave without a deal, we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero, while maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries.
“This balanced approach will help to support British jobs and avoid potential price spikes that would hit the poorest households the hardest.”
The government also announced that in the event of a no-deal it would remove all border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland except a “small number of measures strictly to comply with international obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland business.”
The announcements were made as MPs prepare to vote on Wednesday evening on whether to leave the EU without a deal following a second heavy defeat for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
The fact that car parts brought in to the country will be tariff-free did little to placate a furious industry body.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Today’s announcement does not resolve the devastating effect a no deal Brexit would have on the automotive industry.
“No policy on tariffs can come close to compensating for the disruption, cost and job losses that would result from no deal. It’s staggering that we are in this position with only days until we are due to leave.
“Every day no deal remains a possibility is another day companies pay the price in expensive contingency measure.
“No deal must be taken off the table immediately and permanently.”
There was criticism of the tariffs announcement specifically from another leading business group.
Dr Adam Marshall, the director general of the British Chambers Of Commerce, said: “If the tariffs announced today were to come into effect, there would be winners and losers across UK industry overnight.
“The abruptness of changes to tariff rates in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU would be an unwelcome shock to many of the businesses affected.
“If the government were to bring these tariffs into effect on March 30, the move would also have the potential to cede negotiating leverage in future trade talks.
“While ministers have clearly listened to our arguments and maintained targeted protection in some areas, overall there has not been enough consultation, preparation or planning to support the firms and communities that could find themselves at the end of a sudden shift in tariffs.
“As MPs vote tonight, this is yet another reason why they must act to avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on 29 March.”