Theresa May said to face cabinet pressure over Brexit customs union


He told the BBC: "The job of those of us in Government is to persuade Parliament that the route going forward (is) leaving the customs union, but ensuring that we don't put in place unnecessary barriers to our trade with the European Union".

The vote will be symbolic and non-binding, but it has the potential to deepen Tory Brexit tensions.

The question of customs union membership goes to the heart of the kind of Brexit the United Kingdom will get and is likely to come to a head in a Commons vote as early as next month. It was in the Tory manifesto and Downing Street reiterated this stance on Monday. Remember Vote Leave's call to "take back control"?

Theresa May will remain committed to leaving the customs union, despite a defeat in the House of Lords over the issue and rumours that her position may be softening.

Gove, the Environment Secretary, added the United Kingdom needs to "take back control of trade - that means leaving the protectionist Customs Union", without referring to the Times story. According to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Britain will enjoy a "new degree of economic agility" outside the EU.

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One senior Downing Street aide told the Sunday Times that in a meeting last month it was said that Mrs May and her team "will not be crying into our beer" if Parliament forces the Government's hand on the issue. Johnson has previously said that staying in a customs union would be "worse" than remaining in the EU.

The Irish border is a key element of their case.

They also argue that negotiating new trade deals with the European Union would be a long and tortuous process, with all member states having to sign off on the agreements before they can take effect.

The dilemma facing May is how to avoid physical infrastructure on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic while Britain is outside the customs union and single market.

MPs will be giving their verdict on one of the key tenets of the PM's Brexit strategy.

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"It is coming from the pro-Brexit section of the party and it's deeply unhelpful".

There is no suggestion at this stage that Number 10 is encouraging such thinking about the upcoming parliamentary battles.

Anne Weyman, Vice Chair of Britain for Europe, said: "We may come from different political parties, different traditions and different groups, but we are united by our desire for the people to have their say on the Brexit deal and we are determined to make sure their voice is heard loud and clear".

However, the proposal is expected to be rejected amid growing feeling in Brussels that May will soon abandon her customs union red line, the source added.

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