Downing Street warns Tory rebels: We are leaving the customs union

Posted On: 
23rd April 2018

Britain will be leaving the customs union and be free to strike trade deals with countries around the world after Brexit, Downing Street has insisted.

Number 10 insist Brexit means leaving the customs union.
PA Images

Number 10 moved to reaffirm Theresa May's position amid reports she could cave in if MPs vote in favour of staying in some form of trading bloc with the EU.

Rebel Tory MPs are preparing to back a cross-party motion later this week demanding the Government negotiates a customs union with Brussels.

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It has also emerged that Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson, David Johnson and Liam Fox will urge Mrs May to ditch her favoured alternative - a so-called "customs partnership" which would see the UK collect tariffs on the EU's behalf - at a meeting later this week.

Instead, they want the Prime Minister to secure the second option she has suggested, known as "maximum facilitation", which would see new technology being used to minimise customs checks.

Mrs May's spokesman said: "We have put forward two options, they were set out in the Mansion House speech and elsewhere, and those are the two options which we are moving forward with. We are absolutely clear that we are leaving the customs union and that we will be free to strike our own trade deals around the world.

"We think both of the options we have put forward can provide solutions to the Irish border and to having a smooth customs arrangement with the EU."

He added: "What's important is that all sides work constructively and work together to find a solution and we think that both options we have put forward are viable in achieving our aims."

Meanwhile, Downing Street has also played down suggestions that a Commons vote on the customs union next month could become a confidence issue, potentially triggering the Prime Minister's resignation and a general election.