Gove says development of Irish border technology should not delay Brexit

Lynette Rowe
May 14, 2018

Gove, one of the leading Leave campaigners ahead of the 2016 referendum, said the result of that vote showed the British people want the United Kingdom to be free from the EU customs union.

May said she had put forward different options, but she stressed Britain would leave the EU's customs union so the country could establish its own independent trade policy.

Looking at the customs partnership proposal will be two Brexiteers - International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Environment Secretary Michael Gove - and Remainer Cabinet Office minister David Lidington.

Her intervention comes after tensions in the cabinet exploded into the open last week as Boris Johnson launched an attack on the prime minister's preferred option for a post-Brexit EU customs partnership. The Commons debates, when they come, are likely to expose her predicament even further - she's stuck between a likely majority for a customs union, and the more than 60 lawmakers in her Conservative Party threatening to derail her government if she goes for one.

They prefer the "maximum facilitation" model that relies on technology to minimise border checks, which critics say can not resolve the Irish border issue and would require lengthy development of sophisticated new technology.

Environment Minister Michael Gove, a prominent "Leave" supporter in the 2016 referendum campaign, said neither proposal was absolutely ideal.

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Coveney said: "If we are expecting to get this concluded by the end of October, is it unreasonable for the Irish government to ask for significant progress on a hugely important issue by the end of June, when it is actually factored into the European Union negotiating guidelines that there would be a reassessment by the end of June?"

In a jointly-authored article ahead of the event, they said they were "putting our country before our parties" before it was too late to stop a hard Brexit bringing economic pain to every household.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley will look at max-fac.

The wider Brexit subcommittee meets again on Tuesday and time is running out for the government to find an agreed position to take back to Brussels.

Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, called the rift "a farcical situation".

He said Labour proposed a combination of a comprehensive customs union and a close relationship with the EU single market.

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