May warned her Brexit customs plan might not be legal

Larry Hoffman
May 17, 2018

'It will communicate our ambition for the UK's future relationship with the European Union, in the context of our vision for the UK's future role in the world'. The EU has been calling for clarity, and sees the June summit as key milestone.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, a supporter of the Best for Britain campaign against Hard Brexit, said the war cabinet had "kicked the can down the road again". As expected, there was no breakthrough.

Mr Davis said the new white paper - extending to more than 100 pages - would set out "what would change and what would feel different" after Brexit and was an opportunity for the Government to show the thought behind its approach to the change to a domestic and European Union audience.

On Tuesday, Labour's Brexit policy chief, Keir Starmer, suggested that with a weakened May unable to decide on a customs proposal, "she should give parliament the information to let it decide".

Mr Davis has reportedly told Mrs May that the customs partnership model she favours would be illegal under worldwide law. "In that scenario you'd end up staying in the customs union because you'd have no other choice", a senior source said.The attorney-general's office has been asked to provide an urgent legal opinion before the cabinet makes its final decision.

The Good Friday Agreement states that the secretary of state can call a border poll at any time it appears likely there would be a majority wishing to be part of a united Ireland.

Seeking a way out of the deadlock, May has divided her ministers into two sub-groups tasked with examining and honing the two proposals.

Labour said it was "deeply disturbing" that ministers "still can not agree on the most fundamental Brexit issues".

Lidington said that the cabinet had been split into working parties to examine the two options in greater detail. Though the bloc previously dismissed both options as unworkable, it has started to engage on May's partnership plan by asking for more details.

Under a customs partnership, Britain could collect tariffs on goods entering the country on the EU's behalf.

But EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday that no significant progress had been made in the Brexit talks since March and warned London that time was running out to seal a deal by October to prevent Britain crashing out of the bloc.

Labour will hope to complicate her government's talks on customs by trying to force a vote in parliament for the release of the documents May's cabinet are considering to try to boil down two current proposals to a single option.

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