Don’t leave Britain in EU customs purgatory
THIS paper has made no secret of its opposition to the convoluted plan, drawn up by Europhile civil servants, for a post-Brexit customs partnership – in which Britain would collect tariffs for Brussels.
A bureaucratic fudge, it would have made a mockery of the idea of taking back control of our borders, risked subjecting us to EU rules without any say in formulating them and, most worryingly, limited our ability to sign trade agreements with the rest of the world.
So it is welcome that this fiendishly complex proposal appears dead in the water and that ministers and officials are finally looking at the alternatives.
These include the so-called ‘Max Fac’ option which uses every possible means to streamline customs checks, and is the basis for all our commerce with non-EU countries. Crucially, it would give ministers maximum freedom to secure new trade deals.
The full details are not yet confirmed, but this proposal appears to come with a sting in the tail: Yet more delay.
So little preparation has been done that the technology required may not be ready for January 2021, when the transition agreement is set to end.
As a result, customs arrangements similar to today’s are likely to continue for some time afterwards.
Through gritted teeth, the Mail accepts this may be a necessary price for securing a Brexit worthy of the name. There is, however, one essential caveat: This socalled customs alignment MUST be strictly time-limited.
A fixed date and a firm plan will focus civil servants and negotiators’ minds on coming up with solutions. Without that target, the EU will simply drag its feet in the hope of either keeping us shackled to Brussels or that the wreckers in the House of Lords will destroy Brexit entirely. Mocked and derided by the international community, that would be the worst of all worlds.