"Customs Union not enough to deliver frictionless trade" — FTA

Theresa May on a visit to the Black Country

The, or a, customs union is one of the main flashpoints in the debate over Britain's impending exit from the EU and Brexit campaigners are sensitive to any suggestion that Britain might stay in such an association with the bloc.

The vote is non-binding and May has made no pledge to resign over it, but the pressure will be ratcheted up should she lose.

After defeats in the House of Lords on the customs union over the past week, the important votes in the Commons on the customs union will come next month when the EU (Withdrawal) Bill returns from the Lords. "I'm afraid I'm not going to be drawn on that".

Speaking at a press gallery lunch while backbench MPs debated the virtues of the customs union, the embattled home secretary said: "We still have a few discussions to be had in a really positive, consensual, easy way amongst some of my Cabinet colleagues in order to arrive at a final position".

As this archly annotated Credit Suisse deck points out, May only has one real option left: Staying inside the EU's customs union.

The confirmation that the Government's motion will be amendable opens the door to opponents of Brexit seeking to force a vote on a second referendum, or for Labour to demand that ministers go back and renegotiate a bad deal. The so-called "Withdrawal Agreement" mapping most of this out is set to be cleared at an European Union leaders' summit next October.

The customs union has become the latest battleground between those that want to leave Europe decisively and those who would prefer a "soft Brexit", where numerous current arrangements are retained.


Britain must give Brussels a clear Brexit blueprint to allow negotiations to move forward, the EU's chief negotiator has warned.

Pro-EU campaigners say leaving the single market will have major implications for trade and the economy. and could even threaten the Northern Ireland peace process.

Those plans included two options, either a "customs partnership" effectively collecting duties for Brussels for goods arriving in the United Kingdom but intended for European Union markets or a "highly streamlined" arrangement making use of technology and regulatory co-operation.

Prime Minister Theresa May was dealt a new defeat by Britain's upper house of parliament on Wednesday over her Brexit plans, this time in a challenge to the government's push to adopt wide-ranging powers to amend laws.

The motion being debated today calls for an establishment of an effective customs union after Brexit.

He said to exclude a number of important European Union rights from domestic law would lead to a lack of certainty and continuity, providing a "recipe for confusion" after Brexit.

In light of the Government's own impact assessments and the lack of progress on any new trade deals, any economic case for ruling out a customs union has collapsed. "We do not want them to become more active and have more to focus on", she said.

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