UK Foreign Secretary Attacks May Customs Proposal as 'Crazy
May 09 2018
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has attacked Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for a customs partnership with the European Union after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc - the latest sign of dissent within her Cabinet.
According to a report by Daily Mail on Tuesday, Johnson told the newspaper that a "customs partnership" - thought to be favored by the prime minister - would involve the United Kingdom collecting import tariffs on behalf of the EU.
Earlier this month European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier's team called both options "unworkable", but "British Brexit officials say special scorn was reserved for the second "max fac" option, which would still leave a customs border in Ireland", reports the FT.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Johnson said: "It's totally untried and would make it very, very hard to do free trade deals".
May believed this would allow the Britain to remain close to the European Union, able to transport goods between the United Kingdom and member states with no tariffs, but also separate enough so that the United Kingdom can strike its own trade deals around the world, something it cannot do now.
Theresa May has reportedly told officials to do more work on the proposals.
"Doing what it takes to get the minimum of frictions is something we have made a public commitment to, and we need to make sure we get that right", he said in an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show last Sunday.
Mr Clark said that a customs partnership deal is crucial to protect "just-in-time" manufacturing - when factories receive goods only when they are needed to maximise efficiency.
On the remainers' side, the former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan said some Brexiters were behaving like toddlers.
Clark stressed on Sunday that thousands of British jobs depend on frictionless trade with Europe, in what was viewed as an attempt to revive the customs partnership model.
The new round in the increasingly bitter battle over Britain's future relations with Europe was triggered by the business secretary setting out how devastating customs checks would be for major employers such as the vehicle industry.
"What I can point you backwards towards is that in relation to speeches which the Prime Minister gave in Mansion House and also in Florence there was a full Cabinet discussion".
The row came as Mrs May faces two more parliamentary defeats on her Brexit plan as it nears its final stages in the House of Lords.
May's decision to leave the EU's customs union, which sets tariffs for goods imported into the bloc, has become one of the main flashpoints in the Brexit debate in Britain, pitting companies and pro-EU campaigners against a vocal group of hardline eurosceptic lawmakers.
With May facing a series of crunch Commons votes MPs on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill this month, Grieve warned: "I'm going to put country before party on this matter".
Meanwhile, a further change has been proposed to the legislation that would require the Government to negotiate continued membership of the EEA.