On Wednesday 2 May, so the press has reported, the Cabinet will discuss proposing a “customs partnership” with the EU post-Brexit.
Britain would routinely deal with imports from outside the EU as if they were coming into the EU — it would apply EU tariffs, and pass them on to the EU — and then fix exemptions for imports coming in for final consumption in the UK.
Both the EU and keen-Brexiter Tories think this scheme technically unworkable.
On 4 April an official cross-party committee of MPs proposed that Britain should go for European Economic Area status (effectively EU semi-membership, like Norway, with Single Market, customs union, and free movement) if the government is unable (as it will be) to negotiate a deal satisfying fifteen criteria set out by the committee (bit.ly/eu-cttee).
The Government will face a Commons vote soon on a demand on it, already backed by the Lords, to make plans for staying in the customs union. A proposal to stop the Government blocking a Parliamentary vote against its final deal by saying that it would interpret such a vote as being for a “no-deal” Brexit is also coming to the Commons from the Lords.
With the Government in difficulty, however, the Labour front bench is only tail-ending the pro-Remain Tories and Lords.
Labour should be campaigning independently for free movement across Europe, for lower borders, for no Tory deal without a referendum, and to stop Brexit.