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Call to extend Brexit transition due to customs row

By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
The Brexit transition period should be extended beyond 2020 in order to solve Cabinet indecision on customs arrangements, Theresa May's former chief of staff has suggested.
With members of the Prime Minister's Brexit "war cabinet" currently at loggerheads over the Government's two customs options, Nick Timothy urged Leave-supporting ministers to accept staying within EU frameworks for longer.This idea appears to be gathering support amid the impasse at the top level of Government, with both a former minister and ex-aide to Environment Secretary Michael Gove also backing the plan.Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this week deepened the Cabinet row on the post-Brexit customs arrangements by branding the proposal for a customs partnership with the EU, which would see the collection of Brussels-decided tariffs at the UK border, as "crazy".This is the option believed to be favoured by the Prime Minister, Chancellor Philip Hammond and other Remain-supporting Cabinet ministers, but Brexiteers fear it would scupper the UK's ability to have an independent trade policy.Mr Johnson and other Brexiteers favour a "max fac", or maximum facilitation, option for future customs arrangements, which relies on technology and a "trusted trader" plan to reduce post-Brexit customs checks.The EU has already signalled it will reject both options during negotiations.:: What are Theresa May's customs options?
Call to extend Brexit transition due to customs row

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Boris Johnson deepened Tory divisions
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Timothy said: "If there is a compromise to be made ministers might accept that 'max fac' will take longer to be introduced than the current implementation timetable suggests."But to get its way with Brussels, and to convince Parliament that there is an alternative to a customs union, the Government needs to get on with it, choose 'max fac' - and start making the case."Tory MP and ex-business minister Nick Boles backed Remain at the EU referendum but is also a supporter of the "max fac" model.
He wants the Government to negotiate a temporary customs union that will expire in March 2022, three years after the UK formally leaves the EU.Mr Boles said this represents a "pragmatic approach that both Leavers and Remainers should be able to support".Henry Newman, director of the Open Europe think-tank and a former adviser to Mr Gove, also champions an extended transition period for customs purposes.At the weekend, Mr Gove told his Twitter followers that Mr Newman's thoughts are "always worth reading".
Call to extend Brexit transition due to customs row

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What are Theresa May's customs options?
However, Downing Street stood firm on the Brexit transition period - which will see Britain effectively remain in the EU's single market and customs union - ending before 2021.The Prime Minister's official spokesman highlighted how an agreement had already been reached with the EU on what the Government terms an "implementation period".He said: "That agreement is clear. It will end in December 2020."
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Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "People will remember with incredulity [International Trade Secretary] Liam Fox's claim that a free trade agreement with the EU should be 'one of the easiest in human history'."It is now clear there isn't a chance in hell that the UK government will have implemented any viable form of customs arrangement at UK/EU borders by December 2020."
news.sky.com
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