Customs union 'most likely outcome' of talks with Labour, says Solicitor General

Written by Matt Foster on 8 April 2019 in News

Solicitor general Robert Buckland spoke out as negotiations between the UK Government and opposition are expected to continue

Image credit: PA

A senior minister has risked reigniting deep Tory splits by suggesting a post-Brexit customs union with the EU is "the most likely outcome" of talks with Labour.

Solicitor general Robert Buckland spoke out as negotiations between the UK Government and opposition are expected to continue ahead of a crucial EU summit on Wednesday.

In a direct video address to voters on Sunday, Theresa May said there was a need for "compromise on both sides" if a deal was to be struck.

The Prime Minister has consistently ruled out a customs union – a key Labour demand in the talks.

But speaking on Radio Four's Westminster Hour on Sunday, Buckland said that would probably end up being the area where an agreement can be reached.

He said: "Whilst I don’t pretend it’s ideal – I think there are some real drawbacks with it – it does mean we deliver the end to freedom of movement and it does mean that we deliver the vast majority of, I think, the aims of Brexit, which was to leave the institutions of the European Union.

"It’s not perfect, but frankly in this particular hung parliament none of us can get perfection, we need to compromise… something approximating a customs arrangement or customs union I think would be the most likely outcome."

In her video, filmed in 10 Downing Street, May said the public wanted to see politicians "working together more often" and talked up areas of common ground between herself and Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit.

The negotiations appeared to be on the verge of collapse ahead of the weekend, with Labour saying it was "disappointed that the Government has not offered real change or compromise."

But May said Britain now faced a choice between "either leaving the European Union with a deal or not leaving at all" after Parliament repeatedly rejected her own deal.

"That means we need to get a deal over the line," she said. "And that's why we've been looking for new ways, a new approach to find an agreement in Parliament and that means cross-party talks.

"And when you think about it, people didn't vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. And you know, I think often that members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often."

May added: "Now there's lots of things on which I disagree with the Labour party on policy issues, but on Brexit I think there are some things we agree on.

"Ending free movement, ensuring we leave with a good deal, protecting jobs, protecting security. And so we're talking.

"Can we find a way through this that ensures we can get a good deal and a deal agreed in Parliament?

"It'll mean compromise on both sides, but I believe that delivering Brexit is the most important thing for us."

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