Theresa May abandons pledge for ‘time limit’ on UK’s stay in customs union as part of Brexit deal

Theresa May abandons pledge for ‘time limit’ on UK’s stay in customs union as part of Brexit deal


Theresa May has abandoned her pledge that a deal to keep the UK in the EU customs territory must be “time-limited”, paving the way for likely cabinet resignations.

The prime minister’s spokeswoman refused – four times – to say the “backstop” agreement, to avoid a hard border in Ireland, would have a strict end date, the assurance she set out four months ago.

Instead, No 10 said only that it must be “temporary”, a much looser word that – pro-Brexit ministers fear – will leave the UK locked into an effective customs union for many years to come.

The Independent revealed today that Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, is prepared to resign if the compromise is made, with other cabinet ministers believed to be ready to follow her.

Asked if the reworked customs proposals, being negotiated in Brussels, would have “an end date”, Ms May’s spokeswoman said only that it “would be temporary”.

She attempted to head off a backlash by adding: “The prime minister would never agree to a deal which could trap the UK in a backstop permanently.”

However, the U-turn was quickly attacked by Steve Baker, a leading Brexiteer Tory, who said it risked “effectively committing the UK to membership of the single market and customs union”.

“That won’t wash. The British people voted to take back control over money, laws borders and trade,” the former Brexit minister said.

More follows…


The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.

Sign our petition here



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