Brexit Fudge: May Moves to Avert Revolt, ‘Expects’ Customs ‘Purgatory’ to Be Time Limited

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Theresa May’s government “expects” there to be a time limit to the Customs Union “backstop”, averting a rumoured backlash from Tory Brexiteers and even the resignation of the Brexit Secretary.

Brexiteers such as David Davis only signed up last month to the “backstop” idea of keeping the entire UK tied to the bloc’s Customs Union rules, if an Irish border solution is not found in time, so long as it was time-limited.

If was reported that Prime Minister Theresa May was leaning towards making it potentially unlimited, something leading Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg slammed as a form of Brexit “perpetual purgatory”.

However, in a bulletin published Thursday afternoon, the government said: “The UK is clear that the temporary customs arrangement, should it be needed, should be time-limited, and that it will be only in place until the future customs arrangement can be introduced.

“The UK is clear that the future customs arrangement needs to deliver on the commitments made in relation to Northern Ireland.

“The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest. There are a range of options for how a time limit could be delivered, which the UK will propose and discuss with the EU.”

One friend of Mr. Davis had said earlier on Wednesday it was “50-50” if he would stay in his post, but he received public support and demands to stay from other pro-Brexit MPs.

Another Davis ally had insisted the issue must be clearly resolved within hours. “It is extremely serious. David is the negotiator and he has to be able to do it his way,” they said.

Mrs. May also reportedly held separate face-to-face meetings in her parliamentary office with the pro-Brexit Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

The European Commission’s hardliner chief Brexit negotiator said he welcomed the government’s bulletin but did not yet confirm he would accept the proposals.

The EU has already rejected other Customs Union and Irish border solutions put forward by the UK, including the “Max Fac” option that would allow the UK to break free from EU rules and keep the Irish border open.

The DUP, meanwhile, will not accept the EU’s favoured option of creating a customs border in the Irish Sea, as it threatens the “constitutional integrity” of the union.


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