May to agree “comprehensive but temporary customs union” with Labour

There are reports that Prime Minister Theresa May will outline plans for a “comprehensive but temporary customs arrangement” with the EU, lasting until the next general election in 2022, in an attempt to strike a Brexit compromise with the Labour Party. 

The Government will also reportedly agree to UK-wide alignment with a wider range of EU single market regulations on goods.

May urged MPs to “put our differences aside for a moment” and “do a deal,” adding, “On Brexit there are areas we do agree on [with the Labour Party] – leaving with a good deal that protects jobs and our security and ends free movement.”

Separately, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said, “We want a customs union, but a permanent and comprehensive customs union… We believe better trade deals can be struck if we are part of a customs union, part of a bloc alongside 27 other countries.” He added, “This is a significant policy difference with the Tories.” On the question of a second referendum, McDonnell said, “To get any deal over the line you’ve got to recognise there will be a large number of MPs in Parliament who actually do support a public vote.”

Meanwhile, senior Labour sources suggest that two thirds of the Labour party would not back a Brexit deal without a confirmatory referendum. Moreover, there are reports May has been warned that more than 100 of her MPs would try to block a softer Brexit.

Elsewhere, Conservative MP and Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, said that a customs union deal would “split the Conservative Party” and “must be resisted.” He is due to see May today to clarify her timetable for her departure.

Separately, the National Conservative Convention will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting on 15 June to hold a vote of confidence in Theresa May as party leader. The body represents the volunteer wing of the Conservative Party but the vote will not be binding.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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