Showdown: EU and Ministers Reject May’s ‘Customs Partnership’


Theresa May’s plan to keep the UK tied to the European Union (EU) with a “customs partnership” is faltering, as the bloc rejects it and the majority of her Brexit cabinet is now opposed.

The promotion of Sajid Javid to Home Secretary and into the Brexit “war cabinet” is said to have tipped the balance, as he opposes the plans unlike his predecessor Amber Rudd, The Times reports.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, and foreign secretary Boris Johnson join Mr. Javid in his opposition, meaning six of the 11 Brexit cabinet minister were leaning towards a clean Brexit at a meeting Wednesday.

The Prime Minister was reportedly forced to ask officials to draw up “revised proposals” follow the crunch meeting. Her favoured “customs partnership”, whereby the UK would collect tariffs on behalf of the bloc, has also been rejected this week by EU negotiators.

The plan was also an attempt to solve the Irish border question but would mean the bloc’s customs arrangement would be mirrored at UK borders and would restrict the ability to control trade policy after Brexit.

Anti-Brexit MPs and activists seized on the deadlock to call for full membership of the Customs Union, after they forced a vote on the topic in the Commons and the House of Lords voted to keep the UK tied to the union.

Meanwhile, a group of Brexiteer Tory MPs, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, who find the plan unacceptable, issued Mrs. May an ultimatum on the issue on Wednesday, demanding a clean Brexit.

A consultancy report they commissioned, released ahead of the crunch meeting, says a “customs partnership” would leave the British international trade department “obsolete” and make it “impossible” to forge meaningful trade deals.

Speaking on BBC News, Mr. Rees-Mogg went further, claiming the “customs partnership” would effectively leave the UK in the EU’s Single Market.

However, Mr. Rees-Mogg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was not an ultimatum.

“We’re not in the business of making threats,” he said, adding that the MPs are “very supportive of the prime minister”. The report “is not a revolver, it’s not a duelling pistol,” he added.

The customs partnership is the option preferred by ‘Ramainers’ in the cabinet, including Mrs. May, Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Business Secretary Greg Clark.


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