PM told to extend Brexit transition beyond 2020 amid customs row

Henry Newman

Theresa May has divided her cabinet into two groups to fight out their differences over Britain's post-Brexit customs arrangements, intensifying speculation that she is preparing to delay her decision on the issue.

- 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 discord within the Conservative government over Brexit.

Under pressure from the European Union to move forward with talks on a future partnership, May must settle on a customs proposal to unite, or at least not tear apart, her government, her party, Britain's parliament and one that could be backed by the EU.

The Brexiters' preferred "max-fac" proposal, which relies on technology to minimise border checks, will be studied by remainers Greg Clark, the business secretary, and Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, along with the Brexit secretary, David Davis, a key leave supporter.

This is the option believed to be favoured by the Prime Minister, Chancellor Philip Hammond and other Remain-supporting Cabinet ministers, but Brexiteers fear it would scupper the UK's ability to have an independent trade policy.

Mr Dimblebly said: "You do look like a bunch of incompetents, don't you?" "The British government is still entertaining the max-fac solution".

The UK would collect tariffs set by the EU customs union on goods coming into the UK on behalf of the EU.

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Mr Boles said this represents a "pragmatic approach that both Leavers and Remainers should be able to support".

Open Europe's Henry Newman has argued it would be a mistake for the United Kingdom to put the customs partnership back on the table.

Asked if he thought Johnson should quit the Government, Mr Grieve told The Guardian: "He should resign".

The inaction will reinforce the sense of a government gridlocked over the Brexit process, with no agreement in cabinet over a future customs deal with the European Union, and speculation ministers might seek to delay decisions still further.

Labour is in favour of setting up a new customs union with the EU after Brexit, something it says is backed by the trade unions and industry body the CBI.

"It is now clear there isn't a chance in hell that the UK government will have implemented any viable form of customs arrangement at UK/EU borders by December 2020".

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