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Boris Johnson and Liam Fox set one-year deadline for customs transition deal

Boris Johnson and Liam Fox set one-year deadline for customs transition deal
2 min read

Cabinet splits on a post-Brexit transition deal with the European Union have reopened after Liam Fox and Boris Johnson called for a customs pact to be in place for no longer than a year. 


The Foreign Secretary and International Trade Secretary – both of whom were prominent backers of last year’s Leave campaign – are said to be concerned about the possibility of the interim arrangements stretching into the future.

The Department for Exiting the EU yesterday published a paper proposing a “temporary customs union” after the UK formally quits the EU at the end of March 2019.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Today programme the systems would be in place for about two years before the longer-term solution was set up.

The Government wants to be able to negotiate other trade deals during that transition period, but it will not be able to implement them until the temporary customs union has come to an end.

Mr Johnson and Mr Fox are said to be unhappy about that concession, and have called for the implementation phase to be limited to a year.

A source close to the two ministers told The Sun warned of “trouble ahead”.  

“No length of time had been signed off by the Cabinet for the transition period yet, so it’s utterly wrong of [Philip] Hammond and Davis to be waving around two or three years,” the source said.

“There will be very big trouble ahead if they carry on like this.

“Liam and Boris see one year as the maximum period we would ever need. There is a world out there waiting for us, and we need to get on with embracing it.”

The comments break the fragile truce within the Cabinet that had been secured by a joint article from Chancellor Philip Hammond – criticised by some Brexiteers for pressing for a so-called “soft Brexit” – and Mr Fox.

That piece, which said the transition deal would not be used to keep the UK in the EU “by the back door”, was seen as an effort to draw a line under a summer of reports of ministerial disputes about how the UK should approach Brexit.  

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