The UK wants to create a ‘temporary customs union’ with the EU after Brexit to prevent boarder problems and allow a smooth transition after the UK leaves the EU.
The proposals are contained in the Government’s first ‘future partnership paper’, which will be published today by the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU).
The government wants an interim customs agreement with the EU after Brexit to allow the freest possible trade with the rest of Europe, but the proposal also seek the right to negotiate other trade deals which may be a possible sticking point in the talks.
The custom union allows goods to travel across the EU free of tariffs and checks.
This comes after businesses called for clarity after Chancellor Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the UK would pull out of both the single market and the customs union when the UK leaves the EU in 2019.
Writing for City AM newspaper Brexit Secretary David Davis said temporary union ‘would be a strong indicator to all our businesses and citizens that politicians on both sides are serious about finding a constructive outcome that works for all involved’.
He wrote the UK’s new customs arrangements ‘will need to facilitate the freest and most frictionless possible trade in goods between Britain and the EU’.
He added: “The united desire to avoid unnecessary disruption or a disorderly exit for the United Kingdom from the European Union is a strong foundation for the negotiations.”
“To avoid any unnecessary disruption both sides should seek to agree on an interim period early in the negotiations,” he said.
However, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said the proposals were ‘incoherent and inadequate’ and were ‘designed to gloss over deep and continuing divisions within the Cabinet’.
He said: “Businesses, trade unions and the country need certainty about our future trading and customs arrangements.”
“These fantastical and contradictory proposals provide no guidance for negotiators or certainty for businesses.
“The proposals also make it less likely that necessary transitional arrangements will be in place by March 2019.
“Labour is clear that we need to retain the benefits of the customs union and avoid a cliff-edge for the British economy.
“That means committing now to strong transitional arrangements on the same basic terms we currently enjoy – including the single market and the customs union.”
The customs union document is the first of a series of papers to be published by the government on key negotiation issues.
Proposals for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are expected to be published tomorrow.