Saturday, 16 February, 2019

May lukewarm about Corbyn's customs union call

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk at the European Council headquarters in Brussels Thursday Feb. 7 2019 May urges U.K. legislators to allow more time to get Brexit deal
Laurie Berry | 12 February, 2019, 11:10

Prime Minister Theresa May will tell British lawmakers on Tuesday they must hold their nerve over Brexit to force the European Union to accept changes to the divorce deal that would pave the way for an orderly exit.

But Mrs May rejected some of the conditions outlined by Mr Corbyn, saying she was unclear about why he favoured remaining in an EU customs union.

British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and Liechtenstein's Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick shake hands after signing a trade agreement in Bern, Switzerland.

May will promise lawmakers a second opportunity to influence the Brexit talks later in the month in a bid to stave off any rebellion from within her own party by those who fear Britain could end up leaving without a deal.

She said it was possible to pass bills "quite quickly" with "goodwill" from the Commons and Lords, but added: "It's just not possible to say how quickly it could be done, but obviously it depends on the way in which there is adequate debate on the meaningful vote and that's what the Prime Minister is determined to do".

Boris Johnson said a permanent customs union would turn Britain "essentially into a colony of the EU".

It was one of five demands he said May must meet if she wanted to secure his backing for any revised Brexit deal.

She talked up hope of a breakthrough with Brussels, insisting: "I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support".

"The idea that you can have a customs union with the EU and at the same time, as an outside country, have an effect on EU trade policy, is to not understand the EU treaties".

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DIT says that with the agreement the British vehicle industry, which has consistently warned against a no-deal Brexit, could avoid up to £8m a year in tariff charges on their exports that would apply if the agreement had not been reached.

"We shouldn't be put in a position where the clock is run down and the prime minister says it's either my deal or even worse".

For remaining European Union members, Mr Bettel says the ongoing uncertainty in London "puts us in a position where we don't know what is likely to happen tomorrow".

Ministers have conceded in private meetings with business leaders that they will not be able to replace all of the deals before the Brexit deadline on 29 March, meaning a large proportion of United Kingdom exports could shift to World Trade Organization rules.

Mr Johnson said Mrs May's priority should be to secure a time limit on the backstop - meant to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland - before the next election scheduled for June 2022.

His remarks to reporters came after talks with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

"I think that you would need to have a time limit".

He said "there needs to be a day when Parliament says that's it, enough is enough".

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