UK Government wants temporary customs union to avoid ‘cliff edge’ Brexit

The UK will seek a “temporary customs union”  with the EU after Brexit to avoid the risk of a “cliff edge” exit, David Davis said this morning.

The Government has set out the “ambitious new customs arrangement” it wants to secure with the EU after Brexit, in a new document, in first of a series of papers to be published by the UK government on key negotiation issues.

Ministers said the plans would mean the “freest and most frictionless possible trade” with the rest of Europe.

According to the newly-published government paper, the UK could ask Brussels to establish a “temporary customs union” after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

But during this period, it would also expect to be able to negotiate its own international trade deals – something it cannot do as an EU customs union member.

Once this period expires, the UK will look to agree either a “highly streamlined” border with the EU, or a new “partnership” with no customs border at all.

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said he envisioned the arrangement being “as close as we can to the current arrangements”.

He told the Today programme that businesses were worried about “the infamous cliff edge” – the UK leaving the EU without replacement trade and customs deals. The period should be around two years, he said.

On Wednesday the Government is expected to set out proposals for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

What is the customs union?

Countries in the customs union don’t impose tariffs – taxes on imports – on each other’s goods.

Every country inside the union levies the same tariffs on imports from abroad.

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