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Ed's Brexit round-up

8th Jun 2018 / By Ed Barker

This week has seen a well publicised showdown between the PM and her Ministers over a ‘backstop’ option in Northern Ireland.

EdBarkerNPAReality now seems to be getting more infectious in the Cabinet, and many have come to the conclusion that the new approach to customs envisaged by the UK may not be ready in time for the end of the transition period – the year 2021. Yesterday, the Government stated it would be prepared to offer the EU staying in the EU Customs Union until such a new, bespoke agreement can be reached and within a time limit.

It does at least provide a sense of continuity and prevent a hard border in Ireland, as well as giving tacit recognition that the current ideas in creating a new customs arrangement based on IT systems or new partnerships may take some time to be feasibly implemented (if at all). Central to this is that it would harmonise standards as well as eliminating tariffs between the EU and UK as they would effectively be treating other countries the same. The UK could create new trade deals, but these would be confined to non tariff issues – therefore limiting their scope quite considerably.

Why all the fuss then? Well Brexiteers are unhappy with having to kowtow to the EU default approach, not least because it makes new UK trade deals more or less impossible. In addition, many feel that without the backstop being time limited, it will continue in perpetuity and Brexit will not have happened properly.

Bearing in mind that the deal would have to be agreed by the EU and that there would have to be a recognition on mutuality of standards (take food), this has only added to their ire. Tensions are continuing in the Cabinet, and this week is possibly a sign of things to come.