Michael Gove questions deliverability of "flawed" customs partnership proposal
Michael Gove has become the latest minister to criticise Theresa May's proposals for a customs partnership, saying the arrangement has "flaws" and "needs to be tested".
While refusing to denounce the customs partnership as "crazy'" as foreign secretary Boris Johnson did last week, Gove did tell the Andrew Marr show: "Because it is novel, because no model like this exists, there have to be significant question marks over the deliverability of it on time."
He added the prime minister's suspected favoured approach t o solving the UK's future trading relationship with the EU would require the government to act as a "tax collector".
The customs partnership is one of two models under consideration by May as the Brexit negotiations rumble on.
Read more: MP calls for Johnson to resign after tearing into PM's "crazy" customs plan
Under this model, the UK would collect tariffs on behalf of the EU on goods coming into the UK. If the goods don't leave the UK and UK tariffs on them are lower, companies could then claim back the refund.
âThe proposal has won some cheers because promises an invisible border in Ireland by eliminating the need for customs checks.
The other option on the table is that of "maximum facilitation", whereby technology and trusted trader schemes would help to enable as frictionless trade across the border as possible. Those in favour of a harder Brexit favour this optio n, believing it to offer the UK the greatest chance to strike its own trade deals.
Gove acknowledged that neither of the two models were "absolutely perfect".
Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, meanwhile, told the same show that he was not in favour of the UK staying in the European Economic Area after Brexit, in contrast to the dozen labour peers that last week supported an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that called for the UK to adopt a Norway-style model, which would mean remaining in the single market and accepting rules around freedom of movement.
Starmer said: "We have said a comprehensive customs union with the EU is a necessary minimum. Nobody credible has suggested you can have no hard border in Northern Ireland."
Reiterating Labour's position, he said: "We propose a combination of a comprehensive customs union ... and also a strong single market relationship that hardwires the bene fits of the single market into the future agreement."
The cross-party divisions over the two Brexit proposals follow an article by the prime minister in the Sunday Times in which she asked the public and her fellow MPs to trust her to deliver in the Brexit negotiations.
May reiterated her stance of coming out of the single market and ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
"The path I am setting out is the path to deliver the Brexit people voted for," she said. "Of course, the details are incredibly complex and, as in any negotiation, there will have to be compromises. But if we stick to the task we will seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain that is respected around the world and confident and united at home.
She added:"I will need your help and support to get there. And in return, my pledge to y ou is simple: I will not let you down."
Read more: Brexiters urge May to drop âundeliverableâ customs partnership planSource: Google News