- Parliament TV
- Theresa May sparks confusion after suggesting Britain is aiming for a “future customs union” with the EU.
- The UK government’s official policy is to leave the existing EU customs union and not to form a new one.
- A spokesperson for May tells Business Insider that Britain has no plans to form a new customs union.
- The apparent slip follows reports that the prime minister is privately willing to surrender to continued membership of an EU customs union.
LONDON – Theresa May sparked confusion on Wednesday after suggesting that Britain would sign up to a “future customs union” with the EU after Brexit.
The government is officially committed to leaving the existing EU customs union and is opposed to the Labour party’s policy of establishing a new one.
However, there were numerous reports last month suggesting that the prime minister is privately willing to surrender on the issue and form a new customs union with the EU.
Reports on Wednesday also suggested that the prime minister is considering a “third way” which could allow the UK to stay in a customs union for some time after Brexit.
May added fuel to those rumours on Wednesday when she told MPs that the UK government is now aiming for a “future customs union” with the EU.
“We have set three very simple objectives for a future customs union,” May said at the weekly session of prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons.
Watch Theresa May promise a “future customs union”
Here's the clip:
Theresa May: "We have set three very simple objectives for a future customs union." pic.twitter.com/a7dy5xD2M9
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) May 16, 2018
When asked by Business Insider about her comments, a spokesperson for May insisted that the prime minister had been referring to Britain’s “future customs arrangements”.
“I think she was talking about our future customs arrangements, which [are] the models on which we are working through at the moment,” they said.
Another spokesman for May added: “We have been clear we are leaving the customs union, a customs union.”
Asked whether Britain would consider signing up to a “future customs union” as May had suggested, they replied: “No.”