THE PRIME Minister will ‘never agree’ to a permanent Customs Union with the EU, said 10 Downing Street yesterday. However despite Downing Street assurances Pro-Brexit cabinet members consider that May will agree to such a move when push comes to shove.
Downing Street currently insists any post-Brexit Customs Union would be ‘time limited’.
EU leaders meet next week for what has been described by European Council president Donald Tusk as a ‘moment of truth for Brexit negotiations’.
The EU leaders are not expected to reach agreement with the UK but they say they want to see if ‘decisive progress’ has been made to convene a special summit in November, to finalise a deal.
Northern Ireland’s DUP, which supports Theresa May’s government in key House of Commons votes, has warned it will vote against her Budget next month, if Brexit negotiations result in trade barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In June, the UK government brought forward its proposal for a ‘temporary customs arrangement’ between the EU and the UK as a whole, which would eliminate the need for tariffs, quotas, rules of origin and customs processes on UK-EU trade.
The EU is now prepared to accept the idea of the whole of the UK remaining in the Customs Union if a trade deal cannot be done during the so-called ‘transition period’. It has not accepted that there should be a time limit on it.
It is understood that cabinet ministers Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Jeremy Hunt expressed concerns about the possibility of such an outcome. Amid speculation she could resign, House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told the BBC she was ‘really looking forward to us getting a good deal for the United Kingdom’ and that was ‘all I am focused on’.
Conservative backbench Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns tweeted that remaining in a customs union would be the ‘ultimate betrayal’ of Leave voters. Tory MPs fear that may will agree that the UK will stay in a customs union with the EU indefinitely. May will only get the Labour votes necessary to keep her in office to carry out her sell-out of Brexit if the UK remains a permanent member of the EU Customs Union, one of Labour’s key ‘six tests’.