The U.K. will “categorically” be able to strike a trade deal with the U.S. and other countries under the post-Brexit customs plan that Theresa May will present to ministers Friday, according to one of her most trusted lieutenants.
Speaking to the BBCs Today program, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said that “pretty selective leaks of gobbits from Cabinet papers” in the past 24 hours are “misleading” and “not accurate.”
“I can give you very clear reassurance on [future trade with the U.S.],” he said. “It is categorically not the case that we would be unable to strike a trade deal with the U.S. or any other country.”
“We will have our own seat at the [World Trade Organization]. Our own voice there. Well be able to set our own tariffs. Well be able to set our own trade remedies … our own anti-dumping measures,” he added.
Under Mays compromise customs plan, for which she intends to win Cabinet backing at an all-day meeting Friday, the U.K. will move to what officials call a “facilitated customs arrangement” with the EU. This would entail the U.K. continuing to levy EU tariffs at its borders, but then using technology and “trusted trader” schemes to track goods on their journey through supply chains and to market. Britain would also remain aligned to the EU for certain categories of goods.
It is this close alignment that has raised objections from Brexiteers, who say it will not allow the U.K. to take full advantage of its break from Brussels. They favor a Canada-style trade deal that would allow for more flexibility.
But Lidington said that is not on the table. “The problem with that model is that that would require a hard border with customs checks on the island of Ireland,” he said.
He said the prime minister intends to deliver on the result of the referendum, but, “we need to do that in a way that minimizes the disruption to British jobs, British trade and investment in this country.”