Theresa May has announced that she will adopt Labour’s Brexit policy of being in a customs union with the EU as a backstop in the event that no deal is reached on the Irish Border. A customs union would guarantee tariff-free trade between the EU and UK, and has been Labour’s policy since the spring.
The UK would stay in a customs union temporarily until a trade deal was reached. The EU previously wanted to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union should no arrangement be made about the Irish Border something May would not accept.
This would be a temporary extension of the customs union that could last well into the next decade but does stop the UK being carved up by Britain’s exit from the European Union.
An amendment to have a customs union with the EU in an event of a no deal was previously voted down by parliament but with May’s backing, such policy would almost certainly pass, as Labour support a customs union with the EU, post-Brexit.
After her Chequers proposals were rejected by the EU, May’s future looked terminal, but this could solve a number of problems the PM has encountered, both with the European Union, factions of her own party, and Labour.
This announcement comes after the DUP threatened to pull their support from May if there was a border, of any sort in the Irish Sea, stating that No-Deal was preferable to that proposal.
Irish officials have backed Mrs May’s proposals. Speaking to the Financial times, one Irish official said: “It looks like it would resolve that issue [of the border].
The EU has said throughout the negotiations that they are “open to a customs union” post-Brexit but despite this Michel Barnier has rejected the proposal.
Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief
This is wise from May, mainly because it was her last option without completely adopting Labour policy or just giving up on Brexit. This is the first time in the negotiations the EU is being unreasonable, they previously stated they are open to a customs union and should honour their word. Many have speculated they want a No Deal scenario.
A customs union with the EU should be our preferred option after this mess, you can read why here, and this is a step to solving the problems the PM is facing. Labour will be gutted she has taken reasonable action to avoid a political crisis but May has a long way to go before getting a deal.