British foreign minister slams gov't's post-Brexit customs proposals

SKYTop Conservative MP Brandon Lewis insisted that Brexit was still on schedule

SKYTop Conservative MP Brandon Lewis insisted that Brexit was still on schedule

In a coordinated push to save plans for a customs relationship that is "as frictionless as possible" after Brexit, businesses and Tory backbenchers - including one of the ringleaders of an attempted coup against the Prime Minister previous year - spoke up to defend the government's plans from Brexiteers led by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

A decision on the Government's preferred customs option has been postponed after Theresa May's Brexit "war cabinetW failed to reach agreement".

The idea is thought to be the one favoured by the Prime Minister Theresa May.

His dismissal of the proposal stands in marked contrast to comments by Business Secretary Greg Clark on Sunday that the customs partnership option was still being considered by the government.

"The issue with the customs partnership is to be effective it would have to keep us in the single market as well", he told ITV's Peston on Sunday.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ERG chair, has branded the proposal "just membership of the customs union and the single market by another name" and said Mr Johnson's criticism "hits the nail on the head".

Nevertheless, according to Politico's Jack Blanchard, "allies insist May will press ahead in making the case for her option", arguing that the customs partnership is a smart compromise.

But May's fragile position in parliament has been exposed by a bid by some MPs to bind the government into being in a customs union by filing amendments to two bills that could see the government defeated. "Hundreds of thousands of jobs across the United Kingdom depend on it", she added.

Trump is "surprised it's taking so long" for United Kingdom to leave the European Union, foreign secretary said.

GETTYClarke insisted that the customs parternship with the EU was still on the table
GETTYClarke insisted that the customs parternship with the EU was still on the table

"That's not taking back control of your trade policy, it's not taking back control of your laws, it's not taking back control of your borders and it's actually not taking back control of your money either, because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels", he told the paper.

"I was talking this week to the global president of Toyota motors", Mr Clark said.

A Downing Street source dismissed as "nonsense" suggestions that Mr Clark's appearance and the support from pro-EU Tories had been orchestrated from No 10.

"Following last week's Cabinet sub-committee meeting it was agreed that there are unresolved issues in relation to both models and that further work is needed - as a priority".

But pro-EU former business minister Anna Soubry urged Mrs May to "see off these ideologues who are blighting our party and blighting the Brexit process".

"We are supporting the Prime Minister in what she set out in the manifesto - most importantly because that is our deal with the voters - but also in her Lancaster House, Florence and Mansion House speeches".

Mrs May's scheme would entail Britain collecting tariffs on imports heading for the European Union on behalf of Brussels.

May and her team have asked Johnson and the rest of her cabinet to back her plans, which they believe would prevent a hard border with Northern Ireland. The UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016, and last March, May officially invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, launching the process of the country's withdrawal from the bloc.

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