Friday, 20 April 2018 06:29

MOMENTUM BUILDS FOR CUSTOMS UNION

The SNP’s Europe spokesperson, Stephen Gethins MP, has said that the UK government "can no longer continue being deaf to the growing chorus of calls" to protect the UK’s continued membership of the customs union after Brexit.

Reports in The Telegraph today suggests that the EU has rejected outright Theresa May’s proposed solutions to the Irish border question.

The article quotes a senior EU diplomat who has said that the UK government’s plans were subject to “systematic and forensic annihilation,” and that it was “made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them.”

The news follows the UK government’s defeat in the House of Lords earlier this week, as peers voted in favour of the UK staying in the customs union after Brexit - it was the government's first defeat as the Lords began their scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Following the vote in the Lords, the influential Westminster Liaison Committee – which is made up of cross-party committee chairmen, including SNP MPs Pete Wishart and Angus MacNeil – tabled a motion which calls on the UK government to “include as an objective in negotiations ... the establishment of an effective customs union”.

Stephen Gethins MP commented:

“We are just 10 weeks away from the crunch summit at which the Irish border issue was due to be settled – and less than one year away before the UK plans to leave the EU – yet astonishingly, the UK government has failed to deliver any meaningful solution.

“Earlier this week the UK government suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Lords over the UK’s continued membership of the customs union. A day later, the influential cross-party Liaison Committee has pushed for a debate over the customs union, and now the EU has reportedly rebuked Theresa May’s plans. The UK government can no longer continue being deaf to the growing chorus of calls to protect our economy, businesses and labour market by remaining in the customs union.

“There is clear momentum and political support for the UK to remain in the customs union.

“The Tory government must bring to an end their pandering to the extreme Tory Brexiteers, whose agenda will do untold damage to the economy and jobs for years to come.

“The SNP has consistently called on the UK government to support Scotland and the UK’s membership of the customs union – which is crucial in protecting businesses and the living standards of millions of people across the UK.”

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