Boris Johnson calls UK's post-Brexit trade plan 'crazy'

Marsha Scott
May 11, 2018

Tory former minister Dominic Grieve said it was "regrettable" and "undesirable" that Mr Johnson had made a decision to sound off in public.

It pointed out that the customs partnership had been in existence for months, along with an alternative plan for a hi-tech streamlined customs arrangement.

Theresa May said that the United Kingdom would leave the EU customs union in 2020, when the Brexit transition period ends, pointing out that work on customs arrangements with the EU now remains a priority, the prime minister's spokesperson told reporters.

Businesses would claim back any tariff rebates from the Government if the goods stayed in the UK.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose party props up Mrs May's government in Westminster, hit out at Brussels over the EU's stance on customs.

The British Chambers of Commerce and Confederation of British Industry also called on the government to stand by its current plans, saying it was important to maintain the status quo on frictionless trade until a new arrangement is in place.

The Cabinet minister added: "It's totally untried and would make it very, very hard to do free trade deals".

While speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper from Washington, the foreign secretary called the "customs partnership" plan - under which the United Kingdom would collect tariffs on behalf the European Union - as a "crazy system". "That's not taking back control of your trade policy, (...) your laws, (...) your borders, (...) your money (...) because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels".

Mr Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, dismissed Mr Clark's warnings about the impact of rejecting the customs partnership.

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"The Prime Minister was extraordinarily clear in her article within the Solar on Sunday this morning, saying that we might be out of the customs union and out of the only market and that we might have management of our cash, our borders and our legal guidelines..."

Peers vote on Tuesday night on a series of amendments as officials work to try to find a deal on May's preferred option of a customs relationship with Europe that is acceptable to Brexiters and remainers in her cabinet, as well as MPs and European Union negotiators.

Could the issue topple May?

In a scathing assessment of the Foreign Secretary's behaviour, Mr Grieve concluded: "I don't think he is in any way prohibited by normal propriety in government". On Sunday he insisted that the partnership idea was far from dead.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, writing on the ConservativeHome website, said: "Despite the crucial Cabinet sub-committee on Brexit negotiations and strategy deciding last week that the scheme isn't fit for goal, some in Downing Street are, incredibly, now briefing out that after a few tweaks it can be presented again".

"The Prime Minister asked officials to take forward that work as a priority".

Financial Times journalist James Blitz suggests that pro-Leave ministers may be making empty threats and recognise that May resigning is not in their best interests.

But is Johnson is getting exhausted of being the attack dog of the Brexiteers?

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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