Brexit Trifecta: May Rejects Corbyn's Customs Union Offer, What's Next?

Elias Hubbard
February 11, 2019

She wrote: "I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future European Union trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?"

The existing Political Declaration, setting out the goals for the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU, "explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union - no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors and no checks on rules of origin", Mrs May told Mr Corbyn.

In the interview Sir Keir described Mrs May's approach as "reckless" and "blinkered" and blamed her "tunnel vision" for the devastating defeat suffered last month when MPs threw out her Brexit deal by a record 230 votes.

May and her government have repeatedly said membership of a customs union would prevent it having an independent trade policy - something they have promoted as one of the main economic benefits of leaving the EU.

The letter concludes with Mrs May saying she looked forward to the two parties meeting "as soon as possible".

Mr Johnson accused Mr Corbyn of trying to "frustrate" Brexit by demanding a customs union, which he said would prevent the United Kingdom from striking its own trade deals.

She also questioned whether the call for "frictionless" trade would mean reneging on Labour's commitment to end free movement.

"The fundamental negotiating challenge here is the EU's position that completely frictionless trade is only possible if the United Kingdom stays in the single market", she said.

Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, refused on Sunday to rule out resigning from the Cabinet if May switches position and backs a customs union.

"If she is unable to adopt a sensible deal because it would split the Tories, then the answer is quite simple: there must be a general election", Mr Corbyn said.

In her response, Ms Laird wrote: "Jeremy Corbyn's letter to the Prime Minister this week makes clear our unequivocal opposition to a no-deal Brexit, the Prime Minister's current deal or any tweaked version of it, a CETA style deal or any deal that could lead to a hard border in Northern Ireland".

But the Prime Minister is expected to offer MPs a further chance to vote on non-binding amendments which could influence her Brexit strategy on February 27.

The move is aimed at postponing a rebellion by ministers who are committed to removing the possibility of the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union without a deal on March 29.

Pro-EU Tories Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston both said ministers should "step up" this week to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

But shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird accused Mr Blackford of "outright fabrication and political opportunism" over his claims about Labour's Brexit policy.

"It is alarming that, despite the overwhelming damage that the Prime Minister's deal will cause to Scotland, the Labour Leader would seek to support the deal".

"This week, Parliament needs to say enough is enough - and to take control of what happens next".

He said Labour's plan "could win the support of Parliament and bring the country together" but Mrs May has so far "chosen the path of division".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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