Vultures circle over British PM in European Union talks

UK's May facing Brexiteer revolt over customs union

UK's May facing Brexiteer revolt over customs union

ICTSD reporting; "Customs union Q&A: what is it and can the United Kingdom manage without it?", THE GUARDIAN, 23 April 2018; "Brexit bill: May under pressure after two big defeats in Lords", THE GUARDIAN, 18 April 2018; "EU Withdrawal Bill: amendments and debates", INSTITUTE FOR GOVERNMENT, 20 April 2018; "Can parliament force a government U-turn on the UK's customs union membership?", THE NEW STATESMAN, 23 April 2018; "Customs union: the battleground set to decide the fate of Brexit", THE FINANCIAL TIMES, 25 April 2018; "PM expected to delay customs decision to appease key Brexiters", THE GUARDIAN, 1 May 2018.

While one person familiar with the meeting said that ministers had split six-five against the "customs partnership" proposed by May's office, another rejected that, saying there had been no vote, and that if there had been, it wouldn't have gone that way.

Downing Street has spent the last few days intensely lobbying ministers including David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson on the benefits of the so-called hybrid model, under which the United Kingdom would collect European Union import tariffs on behalf of Brussels.

The partnership would in theory allow the United Kingdom to leave the customs union and negotiate free-trade agreements with non-EU countries.

The Remainers" preferred option of a "new customs partnership' would involve mirroring European Union tariffs on imports to avoid the need for customs posts.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May visits the Oxley Group in Ulverston, April 30, 2018.

Hard Brexit advocates in May's cabinet - including David Davis, her Brexit negotiator, and Liam Fox, her trade secretary - have also threatened to resign if she goes ahead with the European Union customs partnership, posing further questions for her government.

On Tuesday David Davis was been called on by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to explain his vision of a post-Brexit border on the island of Ireland. "I don't think there is a customs union that could ever be acceptable", he said.

Cabinet supporters of May's preferred approach, including Philip Hammond and Greg Clark, believe it has a better chance of avoiding the risk of a hard border in Northern Ireland by allowing traders to move goods freely. "So, there's a variety of mechanisms, but they don't require border infrastructure".

HMRC permanent secretary Jon Thompson told a select committee last September that the customs partnership could take up to five years to be introduced.

"What is important is that it keeps the government's hands open on negotiations with Brussels".

The government promised more thinking on the proposals, with ministers telling officials to go and do more work on both options under consideration.

She was supported by a number of Conservative lawmakers, who have held the belief that May's call for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union's single market and customs union could damage and isolate Britain's economy.

"If we try to do 45 different subjects in sequence, I will be dead and buried and probably my grandchildren will be dead and buried before we get there", he said.

An alternative suggestion was that all companies would have to pay whichever tariff rate (EU or UK) was higher, and then claim a potential refund once goods reached their final destination.

Former Brexit minister David Jones told BBC2's Newsnight: "Certainly there would be a lot of very disappointed Brexiteers if we were to end up in a customs partnership".

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