Emily Thornberry Says Labour Would Seek To Replicate Customs Union Post-Brexit

Joy Montgomery
February 24, 2018

Spend more or do less: EU leaders discuss post-Brexitbudget EU leaders minus Britain's prime minister met on Friday to discuss how the bloc will cope with a multibillion- euro hole in its budget caused by Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May will make a keynote speech next Friday on Britain's relationship with the European Union after Brexit following a "very positive" meeting of her senior ministers, her spokesman said.

I think the Prime MInister's absolutely on course to deliver what the public voted for - I think she's been determined to do that from day one.

Britain on Wednesday suggested an open-ended transition - depending on how long it would take to agree a future trade deal with the European Union - but the bloc also rejected that, saying it was sticking for now to its plan to wrap things up at the end of 2020.

May's spokesman said it had always been government policy that Britain would be able to agree and sign such deals during the time-limited period.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry appeared to drop a big hint on Thursday that Corbyn would use his speech to declare support for staying in a customs union.

"From the very start it has been a key principle of the EU27 that there can be no cherry-picking and no single market à la carte".

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Finance minister Philip Hammond, the most pro-European of May's senior team, said he felt a "real sense of momentum" towards agreeing a transition deal with the European Union at the summit.

In televised comments made in Brussels before the start of an informal European Union summit, Costa said Portugal supported the idea of a common European Union tax on worldwide financial transactions, as well as levies on digital platforms and companies that pollute. "But that's not a significant step away from having your cake and eating it".

Several groups, and even a new party, are being formed to represent all sides of the debate, ranging from pressing for a Brexit reversal or a second referendum, to those accepting Brexit but differing over whether Britain should be in or out of the bloc's existing trading arrangements.

Eloise Todd, the chief executive officer of "Best for Britain", which is about to launch a major campaign, said the odds of stopping Brexit were now close to 50-50.

Hopes that Britain could have a "softer" exit from the EU have risen this week, amid expectations that the Labour Party will shift its policy stance and back remaining in a customs union, and after a Cabinet meeting, at which attempts to reconcile different positions within the ruling Conservative Party, took place.

"But what we want is frictionless trade and we want to find a different way - customs union is one way of getting frictionless trade but it's not the only way - and what we're saying is we want to achieve frictionless trade by agreement between two sovereign bodies - the United Kingdom and European Union".

"Despite usual differences, all leaders are ready to work on the modernization of the European Union budget and its policies and many are ready to contribute more to the post-2020 budget", he said.

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