Boris Johnson calls UK's post-Brexit trade plan 'crazy'

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to supporters during a visit to Finchley Conservatives in Barnet following the local elections

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to supporters during a visit to Finchley Conservatives in Barnet following the local elections

Mrs May was forced to ask officials for revised proposals on post-Brexit customs after she failed to get support from her "war cabinet" for a complex arrangement that would see the United Kingdom collect duties on goods in transit to the European Union in order to keep trade flowing freely and maintain an open border in Ireland.

According to a report by Daily Mail on Tuesday, Johnson told the newspaper that a "customs partnership" - thought to be favored by the prime minister - would involve the United Kingdom collecting import tariffs on behalf of the EU.

Britain is weeks away from making a decision on its future customs arrangements with the European Union, a minister says, adding fuel to a debate that is all but stalling Brexit talks in Brussels and politics at home.

A so-called customs partnership is one of the options on the table, and would involve the United Kingdom collecting import tariffs on behalf of the European Union (EU).

The system would not help the United Kingdom take back control of our trade policies, laws, borders or our money, he added.

It also failed to reach agreement on her alternative suggestion of a so-called "maximum facilitation" model relying on technology to minimise checks at the border.

Mr Clark told the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that it was "absolutely right" that the United Kingdom leaves the customs union but added that "what we replace it with is of huge importance".

Theresa May has reportedly told officials to do more work on the proposals.

"It's totally untried and would make it very, very hard to do free trade deals", Johnson told the Daily Mail in an interview published late Monday.

Others pointed out that Johnson had appeared to change his mind about the customs partnership idea that he had warmly endorsed as an option in the PM's speech in March.

In a coordinated push to save plans for a customs relationship that is "as frictionless as possible" after Brexit, businesses and Tory backbenchers - including one of the ringleaders of an attempted coup against the Prime Minister a year ago - spoke up to defend the government's plans from Brexiteers led by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

On Sunday, her business minister, Greg Clark, again made the case for that partnership, saying ministers were working on it and another high-tech option.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, writing on the ConservativeHome website, said: "Despite the crucial Cabinet sub-committee on Brexit negotiations and strategy deciding last week that the scheme isn't fit for goal, some in Downing Street are, incredibly, now briefing out that after a few tweaks it can be presented again".

Johnson said a trade deal with the USA could not be achieved if the United Kingdom remained "in the lunar pull of Brussels", adding that America wanted to see "a confident free-trading Britain able to do its own deals".

"The issue with the customs partnership is to be effective it would have to keep us in the single market as well", he told ITV's Peston on Sunday.

"But, it turns out over the weekend, somehow, it's been raised from the dead".

However, the spokesman insisted the Prime Minister maintains full confidence in Mr Johnson.

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