Tomorrow the Prime Minister will host a Cabinet meeting at Chequers where it’s been reported she will propose a new “third way” for a deal with the European Union.
Mrs May’s Downing Street office said the Prime Minister will unveil the plan – the “facilitated customs arrangement” – to her team of ministers, trying to secure an agreement to push on with all-but-stalled Brexit talks.
The new plan will see Britain closely mirror EU rules, use technology to determine where goods will end up and therefore which tariffs should be applied, and hand Britain the freedom to set its own tariffs on goods.
Downing Street has said that the new deal offers the “best of both worlds.”
However, that description comes in stark contrast to Brexit Secretary David Davis’ description of the new plan.
The Daily Telegraph reported today that the Brexit Secretary has written to the Prime Minister expressing concern because the plan is simply a customs partnership with some additional technological elements.
It’s been reported that the letter says that the EU has already rejected the idea of allowing a third-party country, as Britain will be after Brexit, to police its borders and that discussing such an option is a waste of time.
It’s understood that the Brexit Secretary is frustrated by the UK’s Chief Negotiator Olly Robbins because neither he, nor the Prime Minister are acknowledging the EU’s position which will only set the UK up to fail.
Apparently the letter has been sent in order to avoid a full-blown Cabinet meltdown at the meeting tomorrow.
With the clock ticking however, passions are running high and the Prime Minister needs to thrash out a deal with her ministers on a future customs arrangement with the EU very quickly.
In particular, a solution is needed to avoid new border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland when the UK is outside the customs union.
Eurosceptic MPs have warned Mrs May against tying the UK to the EU after it leaves, saying this will prevent it from striking its own trade deals with other countries.
After two earlier options were criticised, Downing Street has come up with a “third way” solution on UK-EU trade rules, to be presented to the cabinet when it gathers at Chequers on Friday.
After Friday’s meeting, the government is expected to publish a White Paper setting out its plans in detail.