Downing Street has ruled out staying in the EU’s customs union, in what is being seen as a victory for Brexiteers ahead of the start of talks on a post Brexit transition Tuesday.
A senior No. 10 source said Sunday evening that any form of a customs union is out of the question, after recent confusion over whether Prime Minister Theresa May would consider staying in it to allow easier trade with the bloc post Brexit.
“It is not our policy to stay in the customs union,” the source said. “It is not our policy to stay in a customs union.”
The U.K.’s two proposals were “set out very clearly in the summer,” No. 10 said, with either a “customs partnership or a highly streamlined customs arrangement” on the table.
According to the Guardian, the difference between a customs union and a customs arrangement lies in the government’s ability under an arrangement to make trade deals with non-EU countries.
Chair of the Brexit select committee, Labour MP Hilary Benn told the BBC’s Today program, “I wish it was clarity but I don’t think it is. The government is in a state of open disagreement. The prime minister has been immobilized.”
“I think it’s a profound mistake to leave a customs union with the European Union,” he said.
Jack Blanchard contributed reporting.