Theresa May has effectively ruled out Labour’s proposal for a Brexit compromise, stressing her objection to staying inside a customs union. “I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future EU trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?” she wrote to Jeremy Corbyn. The PM argued that her own Brexit plan “explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union” in terms of avoiding tariffs, while allowing “development of the UK’s independent trade policy beyond our economic partnership with the EU”.
She accepted a customs union could potentially have delivered her a Commons majority but at the serious risk of splitting her party.
The letter comes amid a growing presumption that while May remains officially committed to putting a revised Brexit plan to MPs as soon as possible, in practice this is unlikely to happen before the end of February. Business leaders have called for quicker action, with the head of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, saying the UK is “in the emergency zone of Brexit now” and the confusion will not just affect jobs and investment, but harm the UK as a long-term business destination.
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