UK Rules Out Being In A Customs Union With The EU After Brexit
The extent of any British post-Brexit involvement in the EU's customs union - which binds members into a trade bloc with common external tariffs - has become a major issue of contention inside May's divided government and Conservative Party
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Britain has ruled out staying in any customs union with the European Union after Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said on Monday as the government prepares for a crunch week of Brexit talks.
The extent of any British post-Brexit involvement in the EU's customs union - which binds members into a trade bloc with common external tariffs - has become a major issue of contention inside May's divided government and Conservative Party.
Membership of the, or a, customs union after Brexit, would prevent London from striking trade deals with countries outside the EU in future.
"The key point, as the prime minister has said on many many occasions, is that we need to have our own independent trade policy and be able to strike trade deals with the rest of the world," May's spokesman told reporters.
"We will be leaving the EU and the customs union and it is not government policy to be members of 'the' customs union or 'a' customs union."
He said the official negotiating stance had been set out in a document published in August giving: "two possible options and they are: a highly streamlined customs arrangement, and a new customs partnership with the EU."
The spokesman said Britain was still looking at both options, and no deadline for a decision on which one to pursue had been set.
With just a year left before Britain's March 2019 exit from the European Union, May's party remains deeply divided over what sort of relationship should be built between the world's biggest trading bloc and the world's sixth-largest economy.
Such are the divisions within May's government, that the debate over the extent of Britain's post-Brexit participation in a EU customs union has taken place in public with key ministers offering a range of views.