Downing Street says United Kingdom will not be in customs union with EU

Gladys Abbott
February 7, 2018

But Mr Jenkin urged the prime minister and ensure, among other things, Britain leaves the single market and customs union.

Michel Barnier also told the Prime Minister that "the time has come to make a choice" - reflecting growing Brussels frustration with the UK Government's failure to set out its aims clearly.

So there is an expectation that Olly Robbins, the chief negotiator, may be about to present an approach that is meant to pull the Cabinet together (though one Downing Street source said "Boris is not onside").

Confirmation of the UK Government's approach on the customs union may placate Tory MPs and ministers who are keen for a Brexit arrangement which allows the UK to strike trade deals around the world - something which a customs union could have prevented.

He added: "Our future partnership between the United Kingdom and European Union, on that point we need also clarity about the United Kingdom proposals for future partnership".

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, a member of the sub- committee, sought to dismiss prospects of an acrimonious exchange between camps within the UK Cabinet in favour of and against a hard Brexit and any plot to dislodge Theresa May as prime minister.

She said she had been "surprised" at Mr Rees-Mogg's remarks and added that ministerial Brexit colleague Steve Baker - who has clashed with Whitehall unions and apologised to Parliament - had had an "interesting week".

Later, Davis's negotiating team will meet their European Union counterparts in Brussels for the first talks on a transition period, plus how to enforce the divorce treaty and ensure there is no "hard" land border with Ireland.

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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.

1 January, 2021 - If all goes to plan, a new EU-UK free trade deal would take effect, along with special treaty relationships in areas such as security, defence and research.

18-19 October - A quarterly European Union summit that is Barnier's target date to agree a withdrawal treaty, tying off legal loose ends for departure, such as the rights of citizens, mutual financial commitments and how to keep the Irish border fully open.

Mrs May's move to rule out customs union membership was an attempt to lower the temperature in Tory ranks and respond to criticism that she was being too vague in her spelling out her position.

The Confederation of British Industry has called for Britain to stay in a customs union and Chancellor Philip Hammond last month also left open the possibility of Britain joining a new customs union.

"It's perfectly clear what we want to do". We are seeing a country that is really going backwards instead of forwards.

He also criticised her "gloomy" election campaign, in which the party lost its parliamentary majority, last year.

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