Monday, 23 April 2018
No Customs Union
Late last night it was reported that Number 10 are saying once again, in response to feverish media reporting, that vote in the House of Lords last week, remainer flag flying and of course the deliberate mischief making of the EU Commission negotiating team, that Britain will not be staying in a customs union or joining in a bespoke one as part of the deal done. This is to be applauded but is about time. To repeat once again, whilst most of us were less than gruntled by the negotiations to date, including the deal for the bill we do not owe and the transitional deal that just keeps us in the EU for all intents and purposes with no means of influencing it, we will not accept under any circumstances, membership of a customs union or the customs union. To do so would be a betrayal of the referendum result and render our leaving meaningless. We would effectively make the transitional deal permanent, be out side the EU but have our trade policy dictated for us by a body we are no longer members of. The EU would be negotiating for itself and offering us up as sacrificial lambs without us having the power to prevent them. It is a legal and political nonsense. But of course, barring very high levels of stupidity normally only found on the Labour front bench, the others advocating for this know this very well and are seeking yet another way to stop us leaving at all.
Presumably Number 10 are clarifying this in a panic because of the rising number of Tory MPs saying that any attempt to keep us in the customs union would lead to Cabinet resignations and a probable leadership challenge.
The Prime Minister needs to get back on the front foot on this issue and tell the EU to back off once again. The EU is attempting to keep us in a customs union, their excuse being Northern Ireland. In reality this is just the wedge issue they are using to try to stop us leaving in any meaningful sense or at all. There are no real difficulties over the Northern Irish border if we are being sensible and pragmatic as the borders with Norway and Switzerland demonstrate. Nevertheless less the spin coming from the EU is that they have rejected all of the solutions proposed so far. Well we shall see. The deal is not done until the whole deal is done, which means no money until we are given a trade deal and meaning that the border issue must be resolved. Mrs May should threaten to walk. She has not once deployed this very effective ploy thus far. The time is fast approaching when, to hold on to her job, she may well have to.