UK Plan To Make 'Temporary Customs Union' Deal After Brexit
A "temporary customs union" between the United Kingdom and the European Union may be sought for the immediate period following Brexit, according to the UK government.
Theresa May's administration is getting ready to announce their first detailed proposals on what the relationship between Britain and Europe will be once negotiations have concluded, with today's announcement the first concrete proposal that has emerged from ministers.
The government is aiming for a "time-limited period of implementation" once the UK leaves the trading bloc so that businesses can continue to trade and to allow for new trading agreements to be drawn up with each individual European nation state. The UK will also attempt to broker trade deals with other, non-EU countries during this time, though they will not be able to take effect until any temporary customs union has expired.
Speaking to BBC Radio, the Minister for Brexit David Davies said that the period of transition between the formal date of Brexit in March 2019 and the new trade deals kicking in would be "something like two years" and would have to be over by 2022, which is the date of the next scheduled UK General Election.
Britain is intent that free movement of goods, which is a key facet of the existing EU customs union, would end when Britain leaves. "One possible approach would be a temporary customs union between the UK and the EU" is proposed in the statement released today as a potential solution.
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The statement was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), who represent British business worldwide, but are described as "fantasy" by a leading Labour MP.
"The clock is ticking and what matters now is giving companies the confidence to continue investing as quickly as possible" said Josh Hardie, deputy director of the CBI. On the other side, Labour MP for Nottingham East and spokesman for pro-EU group Open Britain Chris Leslie called the Brexit plan "wishful thinking of the highest order".
"It is a fantasy to pretend we can have the freest and most frictionless trade possible with our largest partner when the government remain intent on pulling Britain out of the customs union," he continued.
David Davies will announce a raft of potential Brexit strategies this week. Today's announcement will be followed tomorrow by a statement regarding the future status of Northern Ireland, which has Britain's only land border with the European Union.
Words by Mike Wood
Featured Image Credit: PA