A clean Brexit taking the UK out of the European Union’s (EU) Customs Union, is the public’s favourite option in relation to customs checks and trade after the UK’s divorce from the bloc, a survey has found.
Responding to a new ICM poll for The Guardian, 35 per cent agreed that “it is very important to leave the customs union properly, so the UK can strike its own trade deals”.
This, as the paper points out, is the position associated with Brexiteer Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP who leads the pro-Brexit, 60-strong European Research Group, as well as foreign secretary Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove.
Less than a quarter, or 24 per cent, agreed that “is very important to stay in the customs union, so firms can trade with the EU more easily”.
This is currently the Labour Party’s position, advanced by their shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, as well as anti-Brexit Tories such as Ken Clark and the Liberal Democrats.
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Around the same number – 26 per cent – said that the “best solution might involve some sort of compromise, perhaps along the lines of the customs partnership, because the alternative proposals are both flawed”.
Prime Minister Theresa May wants some form of bodge along these lines, where the UK would continue to collect customs on behalf of the EU, hindering the UK’s ability to control trade policy, and effectively leaving the UK inside the Customs Union, according to critics.
Some 15 per cent of respondents to the poll, meanwhile, said they did not know.
Tuesday morning, it was reported that Mrs. May had “slapped down” and “clashed” with Mr. Rees-Mogg over his support for a clean Brexit.
The Somerset MP has previously argued that the issue of the Irish border is being used by the EU to keep the UK tied to the bloc’s customs rules, and a frictionless border can be achieved outside the union by utilising technology.
He has also slammed “dangerous” claims there will be conflict in Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the Customs Union by anti-Brexit campaigners, and pointed out that some checks already happen on the border.