The Guardian reports that No, the customs partnership is not a dead parrot and is still in play with “ max fac” the high tec solution that doesn’t exist yet. May’s enforcers are negotiating with her ambitious defence secretary Gavin Williamson to switch sides and support the partnership. Or a new combination of the two. And the outcome? The Remain Guardian and Brexiter Daily Telegraph are agreed, although split over its desirability.
Senior civil servants are believed to have told ministers that highly complex new technology for Britain’s borders will take years to be ready, meaning the UK will be unable to leave the customs union before 2023, prompting Brexiter fears the delay will be used to thwart Brexit.
One senior Brexiteer told The Telegraph: “There are genuine concerns that this delay will lead to the UK staying in the customs union permanently.
“Regardless of that, if we are still in the customs union by the time of the next general election in 2022 it will cause a catastrophe at the polls because we will not have delivered Brexit and voters will not have seen any benefits of leaving the EU.”
David Davis, Brexit secretary
“I have always said that the best solution to the Northern Ireland Border issue will be reached through the deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union, recognising the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. As the European Commission has itself acknowledged, solutions to the Border issue cannot be based on precedent.”
While Ms May is under pressure from Brexiteers to abandon the customs partnership proposal, Conservative remainers are threatening to join opposition MPs in backing an amendment to the EU withdrawal Bill calling for Britain to remain in a customs union with the EU. Up to 12 Conservatives could rebel against the government, enough to ensure defeat.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London