Leading Brexiteer Michael Gove slams customs partnership plan in fresh blow to Theresa May

Posted On: 
13th May 2018

Pro-Brexit Cabinet minister Michael Gove today said the customs plan being pushed by Theresa May had “flaws”.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove issued a fresh blow to the 'customs partnership'
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PA Images

The Environment Secretary blasted the so-called ‘customs partnership’ proposal - which would see the UK collect tariffs on behalf of Brussels while operating an independent trade regime.

His intervention comes just days after Boris Johnson described the plan - dismissed by Brexit supporters as keeping the UK too tied to Brussels - as “crazy”.

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Pro-Brexit MPs prefer the so-called ‘maximum facilitation’ option, requiring technology which does not yet exist to keep the Irish border open.

Mr Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “It’s my view that the new customs partnership has flaws and that they need to be tested.”

He argued there were “significant questions marks over the deliverability of it on time”.

And he added: “More than that, what the customs partnership requires the British government to do is, in effect, to act as the tax collector and very possibly the effective deliverer of regulation for the European Union.”

Mr Gove, who was an instrumental figure in the Leave campaign, is part of two working groups set up by the Prime Minister to scrutinise the options for post-Brexit customs arrangements.

It came as Mrs May implored her Cabinet ministers to trust her on Brexit amid reports that at least a dozen of them are lining up to block her chosen customs plan.

Meanwhile, Treasury Minister Mel Stride defended the ‘customs partnership’ model, telling Sky News it “has some huge advantages” and should not be “dismissed out of hand”.

Earlier in the week Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail: "If you have the new customs partnership, you have a crazy system whereby you end up collecting the tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier.

“If the EU decides to impose punitive tariffs on something the UK wants to bring in cheaply there’s nothing you can do.”

NO BREXIT EXTENSION

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Gove dismissed suggestions that the Brexit transition period could be extended to give officials time to iron out problems with customs arrangements.

He said: “One of the things we need to do is crack on. We have an implementation period, that gives us an additional 21 months after we leave the European Union to get everything right.

“I think the critical thing is to meet that deadline… I don’t believe in an extension.”