UK mulls ex­tend­ing EU cus­toms poli­cies

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

LON­DON — The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing stay­ing aligned to the EU’s cus­toms union for years af­ter a post-Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod if it can­not re­solve the Ir­ish border is­sue, news­pa­per re­ports said yes­ter­day.

Lon­don is re­port­edly ready to of­fer this op­tion as an al­ter­na­tive “back­stop” to the Euro­pean Union’s pro­posal that North­ern Ire­land alone would stay aligned if no way was found to avoid border checks with the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

Bri­tain has vowed to leave the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union af­ter Brexit, which legally takes place on March 29, 2019, but in ef­fect will be de­layed by a tran­si­tion pe­riod last­ing until De­cem­ber 31, 2021.

The plans have raised the prospect of border checks with EU-mem­ber Ire­land, which many fear could up­set the frag­ile peace in the re­gion.

Lon­don has in the­ory agreed that if no so­lu­tion can be found to keep the border open, North­ern Ire­land would be aligned with the EU as a last re­sort — but this would break up the coun­try and in re­al­ity would never be ac­cept­able.

Un­der the plan re­ported in The Times and The Tele­graph, the gov­ern­ment’s new “back­stop” would see the whole coun­try re­main aligned with the EU.

The Tele­graph re­ported that Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s top min­is­ters signed off on the plan on Tues­day, and The Times said it would be pre­sented to the EU next week.

“We agreed in De­cem­ber and in March to a back­stop, but the sub­se­quent le­gal text that was put for­ward by the EU we be­lieve was un­ac­cept­able,” May’s spokes­woman said.

“Ne­go­ti­a­tions are con­tin­u­ing on what a work­able back­stop would be.”

May’s gov­ern­ment has yet to agree on its plans for fu­ture cus­toms ar­range­ments with the EU and there are grow­ing fears that any op­tion will not be ready by the end of the tran­si­tion pe­riod.

The idea of ex­tend­ing the tran­si­tion has been mooted in re­cent weeks by May’s for­mer chief of staff Nick Ti­mothy, her for­mer deputy Damian Green, and busi­ness sec­re­tary Greg Clark.

Down­ing Street has re­peat­edly said that Bri­tain will be leav­ing the cus­toms union af­ter the tran­si­tion, and May said yes­ter­day: “The United King­dom will be leav­ing the cus­toms union.”

The sug­ges­tion of a “softer” Brexit lifted the pound overnight, ac­cord­ing to Jasper Lawler, head of re­search at Lon­don Cap­i­tal Group, an on­line trad­ing plat­form.

“Should the re­port be con­firmed as true then this rally could have a lot fur­ther to go, but right now traders are await­ing some form of con­fir­ma­tion.”

But hard­line euroscep­tics are un­happy, with lead­ing Con­ser­va­tive MP Ja­cob Rees-Mogg telling the Tele­graph: “Peo­ple voted to leave, they did not vote for pur­ga­tory.” —AFP

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