Cabinet ministers gather at Teresa May’s countryside retreat (Chequers) to discuss Brexit deal. They have been seen on the terrace, enjoying the rare British sunshine.
Today, ministers are considering an alternative “third-way” on future customs arrangements. This new idea, aimed to keep the borders frictionless, is currently being discussed at the Brexit summit. No. 10 had kept tight-lipped, even to cabinet ministers attending the Chequers meeting today, about what this option was. Considering both EU and ministers had dismissed May’s preferred customs partnership option as unworkable, as well as the Max Fac model, Britain eagerly awaits what this third option entails. It had been thought that this third option would be more in line with the customs partnership, which was winning arguments in cabinet because of its cheaper running costs. This third option is a so-called “facilitated customs arrangement”, which was announced just a day before today’s talk at the Chequers court; ministers will provide more details in the upcoming White Paper due for release on Monday.
This third way is proposed to solve the issues regarding custom arrangements on the Irish border, with the hope that it will bring a welcome compromise to the wants of both Brexiteers and Remainers. Britain would essentially have the freedom to set its own tariffs, with technology being used to determine whether goods end up in Britain or the EU- where the applicable tariffs would be set.
May has pleaded with the rest of her party to support her future decisions during a speech at the summer ball at the beginning of the week, saying: “Will we find the boldness, the courage and the discipline to unite as one for the good of our nation and fellow citizens? Or will we be divided and allow the scale of the challenge, the complexity of the questions to overwhelm us?” To which the BCC has told politicians to cease with their “squabbling” and to put Britain’s economic interests at the forefront of their agreements at today’s meeting.
The government has made little headway on the 23 major issues (including VAT, tariffs, customs and regulations) that British businesses need clarity on in order to plan their post-Brexit trade; the hope is that after today, British businesses will start getting more answers instead of having to ask more questions.
These talks come as British businesses voice their lack of patience with the progression of the Brexit talks, according to City organisations, with a group of Britain’s market-leading professional and business service firms handing May a list of their demands in order to ensure organisations can have more effective business cost management plans in place for Brexit. The letter states: “The UK needs to get the right deal on professional and other services given our relative strengths and current competitive position.”
BBC reporter, Simon Jack reports that “the government IS hoping that business will do its bit by responding positively to what the government will claim is a new level of post-summit clarity.”
Senior cabinet ministers are hopeful that today’s summit will be a huge moment in the Brexit timeline by providing a substantial step forward in organising post-Brexit internally. This will then allow them to look toward the EU to settle on solutions that benefit both economic interests.
According to headlines on The Guardian online, the ‘EU says it won’t let UK damage single market as cabinet debates May’s Brexit plan at Chequers’. Yet, a chief Brexit negotiator for the EU, Michael Barnier, has said in Brussels today, according to journalistic reports, that he does not want to comment on May’s Brexit plans just yet, wanting to give his team more time to examine UK proposals ‘precisely and objectively’.
We will all have to patiently wait and see what direction the Brexit negotiations are going down according to these new plans. If you are not yet Brexit-ready, get in touch with our specialist team today to see what changes and preparations your organisation can make to future-proof your business.