UK Rules Out Customs Union With EU After Brexit

Theresa May

But Mr Barnier said that "without a customs union and outside the single market", barriers to trade in goods and services "are unavoidable".

In preparation, Michel Barnier, EU Negotiator is meeting British Prime Minister Theresa May today, 5 February 2018.

The latest European Union draft of the transition agreement says the bloc should be able to cut Britain's access to the EU's single market if it misbehaves, and if there is not likely to be enough time to take the issue to the bloc's top court in Luxembourg.

Those who say Theresa May should be more assertive over Brexit are the self-same politicians, and others, who would be criticising the Tory leader if she tried to circumvent the Cabinet on Britain's future alignment, or otherwise, with the customs union.

Any customs arrangement limits the UK's ability to strike trade deals and that means it is potentially a no-goer with the Brexiteers who value free trade.

"As the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has said, given the way the EU works, virtually all of the major laws that will be introduced during the time-limited implementation period are being negotiated now, while we are in the room".

Ms Rudd attempted to clear up some of that confusion over customs arrangements, with the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox last week claiming a customs union was "not possible" despite Mrs May's claim to be keeping an "open mind" in her Lancaster House speech past year.

"It is time for all her ministers to back her too and to end the confusion they are fomenting in government".

"It is not our policy to be in a customs union", a source said.

If the United Kingdom pursues a Canada-style agreement and remains outside the customs union, it will require customs checks on the Border as well as the application of tariffs on goods not included in the free trade agreement. One Cabinet Brexiteer told me: "it's a Customs Agreement not a Customs Union".

After a weekend of conflicting statements from government officials, a source in May's office, speaking only on customary condition of anonymity, told British media that it is not their policy to be in a customs union. May has promised Ireland and the European Union there will no hard border, and breaking that promise isn't an option if she wants an orderly exit.

May has held onto her job by avoiding too much clarity on what Britain's divorce from the European Union might look like, even as the process has been going on for almost a year.

"Remaining in the single market and the customs union is essential for the economy, jobs and living standards and it's high time the Tories put that before their internal squabbles", he added. In the first formal discussion of future relations, the British will explain customs and security ideas. "It is not a matter of scaremongering to get negotiating advantage".

The UK and European Union agreed last December that regardless of what happens in the latter stages of Brexit negotiations, there will be no hard Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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