Along with ending free movement of people, it was the reddest of Theresa May’s red lines: post-Brexit Britain should be able to strike its own trade deals. The prime minister contended that to respect the 2016 referendum result the UK must have “new opportunities to trade with the rest of the world” and, for the sake of these future trade deals, she ruled out Labour proposals for a permanent customs union with the EU. But the argument is far from over. A proposal for a permanent customs union with the EU fell just six votes short of a majority last week when MPs voted on their preferred Brexit outcome. For years a niche subject for campaigners, wonks and eurosceptics, trade policy has become a big issue in British political life. One former prime minister told a private audience recently that if he had been asked about the EU customs union during his time in office, he would not have known what they were talking about. The customs union means that EU countries apply the same tariffs to imported goods from the rest of the world. Trade deals are negotiated by Brussels on behalf of the (currently) 28 members, although governments… Read full this story
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