Fox wants Brexit with the exit.


Trade Secretary Liam Fox rules out UK-EU customs union
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has ruled out the UK staying in a customs union with the EU.

He said, “It’s very difficult to see how being in a customs union is compatible with having an independent trade policy because we would therefore be dependent on what the EU negotiated in terms of its trading policies and we’d be following behind that.” He added, “We have to be outside of that to take advantage of those growing markets. One of the reasons we are leaving the EU is to take control and that’s not possible with a common external tariff.”

This comes after the Financial Times reported that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit advisers are considering whether the UK should strike a customs union with the EU to cover trade in goods. One official told the FT, “If we can find a way of keeping goods in the customs union and retaining some independence on trade — particularly on services — we should look at it.” Asked about the possibility of a post-Brexit UK-EU customs union yesterday, May said, “What I want to do is ensure that we have got the best possible trade arrangements with China and with other countries around the world once we have left the European Union.”

Separately, according to Politico, EU Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand yesterday told an internal EU meeting that Chile and South Korea have already raised objections to the UK enjoying the benefits of EU-struck FTAs during the Brexit transition period. The countries are reportedly pushing for the UK to make extra concessions if it wants to keep benefiting from the deals currently in place during the transition.

Elsewhere, according to The Daily Telegraph, the leaked Brexit impact assessment, which modelled various post-Brexit scenarios, shows that EU workers will be given “preferential” treatment if Britain secures a free trade deal. Under a “flexible migration” scenario, described as a “midway point between strict policy and continued Labour mobility”, EU workers would have to earn £20,500 to come to the UK. The document states, “The Treasury believes that a relevant factor to be considered when appraising the economic impact of various end states is the interaction with migratory flows.

The WTO [World Trade Organisation] scenario assumes a relatively demanding income threshold would apply to both EEA and non-EEA migrants, on the grounds that it would be legally difficult to maintain entirely separate systems from the rest of the World in this scenario. For the [Free Trade Agreement] scenario the model adopts a preferential lower minimum income for EEA migration relative to non-EEA migration as part of that deal.”

Responding to the leaked assessment, May said, “It’s important of course that the government looks at the analysis that is available. But of course it’s also important that the government does what the British people want us to do — the British people want us to leave the European Union and that is what we will be doing.” A Government spokesperson said it was a “misrepresentation of a document which we have already said does not represent Government policy”.

Source: The Times, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, Politico Brussels Playbook, Politico London Playbook
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