LEADING Brexiteers have condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s proposals for a permanent customs union as a ‘dangerous delusion’ that could leave Britain a colony of the EU.
Theresa May’s spokesman said the prime minister was ‘absolutely clear’ she is not considering the plan put to her by the Labour leader (below). But senior Tories favouring a hard Brexit were angry she had refused to rule it out completely and had left the door open for more talks.
Boris Johnson said a permanent customs union would turn Britain ‘essentially into a colony of the EU’. ‘I don’t think there is any mileage in trying to do a deal with Labour,’ he told the BBC. ‘They will just try to trap Theresa May. They will just try to do a deal that is toxic.’
And he insisted the UK must be able to unilaterally leave any Northern Ireland backstop in the next three years.
Trade secretary Liam Fox said the government wanted to work with Labour, but it has ‘put forward ideas that are not workable’. ‘Non-EU members do not have a say in EU trade policy so to pretend that you could do so is a dangerous delusion,’ he said. The warnings came after Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss refused to rule out resigning if Mrs May backed a customs union.
The PM is due to update MPs today after Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay met EU negotiator Michel Barnier last night. Her spokesman said she is committed to replacing the backstop with ‘alternative arrangements’. But Mr Barnier said ‘something has to give’ on the British side to stop the UK crashing out.
Labour’s Keir Starmer said a majority exists for a customs union and he feared Mrs May was ‘simply running down the clock’.