Brexit customs plan to be set in white paper by UK Government

Written by Kevin Schofield on 16 May 2018 in News

UK Government to finally set out Brexit customs plan in White Paper next month

David Davis - Philip Toscano/PA

Ministers will finally reveal their plans for a customs arrangement with Brussels next month in a White Paper, it has emerged.

Details of the White Paper emerged as Theresa May's Brexit war Cabinet once again failed to decide which of two customs options to back in forthcoming negotiation with Brussels.

It is thought Brexit Secretary David Davis won backing for the document, which will run to more than 100 pages, at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

It will set out the UK's vision for its future dealings with Europe - including the vexed issue of what kind of trading relationship there will be.

Ministers on the the 11-strong group heard presentations on the customs partnership and maximum facilitation models, but a final decision on which they prefer was again delayed.

Earlier, Davis had told the full Cabinet: "(The White Paper) will be our most significant publication on the EU since the referendum. It will communicate our ambition for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, in the context of our vision for the UK's future role in the world."

He said it was "an opportunity to set out clearly to both a domestic and an EU audience the reasoning behind our approach, including where we think it is clearly in the EU’s interests as well as our own".

The document will "include detailed, ambitious and precise explanations of our positions...it should set out what will change and what will feel different outside the EU", Mr Davis added.

But Shadow Brexit minister Paul Blomfield said: "It is deeply disturbing that, after yet another meeting, the Cabinet still cannot agree on the most fundamental Brexit issues.

"Ministers have finally agreed to publish a White Paper on the Government’s negotiating position, but they still don’t know what it will say. 

"Labour called for a White Paper before Article 50 was triggered. However, ministers have wasted months arguing amongst themselves rather than negotiating in the national interest.

"Today’s failure highlights the deep division at the heart of government on the most basic of issues. Whether those divisions can be resolved in the next month remains to be seen. If the Cabinet can’t take the decisions, Parliament will."

Meanwhile, Labour will today try to use ancient parliamentary rules to try to force the Government to publish all documents which have been prepared for the Brexit war Cabinet on the two customs options.

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