UK Prime Minister May seeks customs deal with EU after Brexit

UK Prime Minister May seeks customs deal with EU after Brexit

UK Prime Minister May seeks customs deal with EU after Brexit

AFP photo

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Jan. 17 her country sought some kind of a customs agreement with the European Union, from which it is expected to launch its withdrawal soon after Britons decided in a referendum known as Brexit decided to leave the bloc. 

“I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU … Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position. I have an open mind on how we do it,” said May on Jan. 17, adding that full Customs Union membership would prevent the country from negotiating own comprehensive trade deals. 

“That means I do not want Britain to be part of the Common Commercial Policy and I do not want us to be bound by the Common External Tariff. These are the elements of the Customs Union that prevent us from striking our own comprehensive trade agreements with other countries,” May said.

Turkey, which is a candidate country to the EU, and the EU have agreed to update and further enhance the customs union deal among them in place since 1995. 

May said the U.K. would not seek a deal that left the country “half in, half out” of the European Union when it negotiates its exit from the bloc. 

“We see a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union or anything that leaves us half in, half out,” May said during a highly-anticipated speech at London’s Lancaster House.

May said Britain would leave the EU’s single market in order to restrict immigration in a clean break from the bloc, but lawmakers can vote on the final deal.

“Brexit must mean control of the number of people coming from Europe, and that is what we will deliver. What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” May said. 

She added that Britain would seek a trade deal giving “the greatest possible access” to the market on its departure.

May also said Britain’s Parliament will be able to vote on the final divorce deal reached between the U.K. and EU.

May confirmed that her government will put the final agreement to a vote in both houses of Parliament before it comes into force.

However, she did not address what would happen should there be a vote against the agreement.

May also said Britain would withdraw from European Court of Justice jurisdiction.