Gove expresses doubts about Brexit customs plan

Eloise Todd

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said the government was in a "farcical situation".

Adopting the phrase used by the Leave campaign, the Prime Minister said she would "take back control" of Britain's borders, money and laws, but added: "There will have to be compromises".

"You can trust me to deliver", Mrs May wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper. And in return, my pledge to you is simple: "I will not let you down".

Mrs May is on record as saying the United Kingdom will quit the Customs Union - which permits tariff-free trade between EU member states - upon leaving the bloc next year.

What are the government's options?

Both options are being scrutinised by two sub-Cabinet groups, with Gove one of those analysing the customs partnership model.

All EU members are part of the customs union which means there are no tariffs on goods transported between member states. The EU has expressed doubts about whether either option would work.

"Because it is novel, because no model like this exists, there have to be significant question marks over the deliverability of it on time", he said.

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He added the prime minister's suspected favoured approach to solving the UK's future trading relationship with the European Union would require the government to act as a "tax collector".

Reiterating Labour's position, he said: "We propose a combination of a comprehensive customs union. and also a strong single market relationship that hardwires the benefits of the single market into the future agreement".

The scheme "has flaws that need to be tested", the environment secretary told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

In a warning to Tory MPs wavering on the issue, the party's former leader Iain Duncan Smith said voting to stay in the customs union would be a massive setback. "That is the only way to resolve this impasse".

But Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, dismissed the idea of using any form of infrastructure or technology to maintain separate customs regimes between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. If you don't believe me on it, listen to people who are living locally.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley will look at max-fac.

And student organisations representing nearly a million young people have also written to MPs demanding a referendum on any final Brexit deal.

Ms Morgan said she and her cross-party allies would be speaking at a rice mill in Essex owned by the firm Tilda, which is set to relocate some of its operations overseas in the event of a hard Brexit.

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