May faces parliamentary revolt over post-Brexit customs union membership

Theresa May

Theresa May

May is set to face calls from leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox to abandon her preferred form of a customs deal with the European Union, according to The Times.

Media captionWhat is the EU customs union?

LONDON - Theresa May is preparing to surrender over her promise to leave the Customs Union with senior advisers to the prime minister telling the Sunday Times that she is now willing to live with a Commons defeat on the issue.

Mrs May will be given an indication of the scale of the opposition she faces from pro-EU Tories over her customs union plan in a Commons debate on Thursday. Ten Conservative MPs have already signed it. It was in the Tory manifesto and Downing Street reiterated this stance on Monday. However, May could take the decision to resign as prime minister.

She told the BBC: "That risk to the Prime Minister's leadership, all this not coming from the section of the party that I represent".

May has repeatedly promised to end all existing UK-EU customs arrangements as part of Britain's departure from the EU.

Although the parliamentary debate on Thursday will not be binding, it is set to ratchet up the pressure on Theresa May, ahead of a key vote on the issue next month. Whatever one's view on the referendum result, it must be acknowledged that, outside the European Union, this country will enjoy a new degree of economic agility.

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He is one of many vocal Tory MPs, including Michael Gove, opposing any softening of a withdrawal from the customs union.

Replying to Mr Javid's tweet, he suggested MPs should "rise above ideology and lead based of fact, analysis and evidence - all of which favours a customs union".

"The route we're going for is leaving the customs union but ensuring that we don't put in place unnecessary barriers to our trade with the European Union", Justice Secretary David Gauke said on Sunday.

Questions on the Customs Union arise as the EU rejects the UK's proposals for the Irish border after Brexit. They argue this could boost jobs and the economy.

In two editorials that Blanchard says are sure to be "pored over by No. 10", the Daily Mail warns the PM that staying in the customs union would be "an utter humiliation", while The Sun says: "It is welcome news that Theresa May has reiterated Britain will leave the customs union - and The Sun will hold her to it".

Inside a customs union, Britain would be unable to control its trade policy and strike trade deals with partners like the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as emerging markets elsewhere.

Such a U-turn would be popular with business leaders and go a long way to resolving Mrs May's difficulties in resolving the Northern Ireland border issue.

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