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Amber Rudd stumbles into EU customs union controversy

Britain's prime minister Theresa May. Neil Hall Reuters

British lawmakers will step up pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May over her Brexit strategy on Thursday, criticising her refusal to pursue a customs union with the European Union.

Lawmakers in Britain's House of Commons will be able to amend a final Brexit bill when it is placed before parliament this fall, Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis told a committee of MPs Wednesday.

After rising crime and Windrush, she declined to say at a Westminster lunch that the United Kingdom was certain to leave the customs union.

And the government is facing a series of parliamentary showdowns on the customs union.

The contract, which was awarded in January, ended last month, on the same day the government secured European Council backing for a transition deal that unlocked the current round of Brexit talks on Ireland and the future relationship.

"It's no good pretending to be in a parallel universe in which all of things we might want to be true just simply aren't".

Media captionWhat is the EU customs union?

Theresa May is getting ready to surrender over her guarantee to leave the Customs Union with the senior counselors to the leader telling the Sunday Times that she is presently ready to live with a Commons crush on the issue.

Lawmakers will have to decide whether to back the government or reject the agreement - with the risk that Britain could crash out of the European Union next year without any deal in place.

Thursday's Commons debate is not binding on the Government and was not attended by many pro-Brexit MPs, with Tories not whipped to take part in the vote.

As this archly annotated Credit Suisse deck points out, May only has one real option left: Staying inside the EU's customs union. If we were to do a special customs union deal, it will stop us trading with any other Country.

The Prime Minister is now exclusively focused on internal party management and masking the divisions within her government.

Ahead of the debate, Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of putting party before country and said any economic case for ruling out a customs union has collapsed.

Lord Pannick, who won the Article 50 case against the Government, said that 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.

She said: 'Coming out of the customs union means that we will be free to have those deals, deals that suit the UK. It could also potentially avoid the return of a hard border in Ireland, although it would limit the government's ability to strike trade deals with other nations.

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