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May rejects Brexit customs union compromise

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 11, 2019 - Duration: 01:42s

May rejects Brexit customs union compromise

British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected the idea of targeting a customs union with the European Union, pouring cold water on hopes from some that she could shift her Brexit policy to win over the opposition Labour Party.

Megan Revell reports.

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May rejects Brexit customs union compromise

British Prime Minister Theresa May has once again rejected the idea of joining a customs union with the European Union, pouring cold water on hopes from some that she'd shift her Brexit policy to win opposition support.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but has yet to find a deal which is acceptable to both Brussels and lawmakers at home.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said last week that a customs arrangement would earn May much-needed support in parliament.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LABOUR PARTY LEADER, JEREMY CORBYN, SAYING: "The principle points are that we need a comprehensive customs union with the European Union (...) A lot of our manufacturing industries are very frightened and very worried at the moment that on the 29th of March there'll be a cliff edge." May's reply Sunday (February 10) was that she wouldn't bite, showing little appetite for a u-turn that would risk splitting her own party.

May and her government have repeatedly said a customs union would hamper any chances of Britain having an independent trade policy - something championed as being one of Brexit's main benefits.

Without Labour support, May is left with a battle to unite her own party.

To do that she needs to persuade a reluctant EU to take another look at the Irish backstop, a policy designed to prevent a hard border being resurrected in Ireland if a deal isn't reached.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: ''I think that I would want to look very carefully at what was being proposed and it would have to give the United Kingdom, a UK sized exit from the backstop.

We would have to be able to get out by a certain time and we would have to be able to get out of our own volition otherwise you are locked in arrangements that greatly suit the EU that enable them effectively run our trade policy.'' Britain's Brexit minister Stephen Barclay will meet EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday ahead of Thursday's (February 14) crunch moment in parliament, when lawmakers will try to force May to change course, or give up control of the exit process completely.

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