Britain could remain in EU customs union post-Brexit, according to trade minister

'You can choose which markets, which products the customs unions affect and which they don't,' says Greg Hands

Saturday 03 December 2016 16:22
Pro-Brexit protest in London on 23 November
Pro-Brexit protest in London on 23 November

The UK could seek a deal that looks to get sections of the economy access to the EU’s customs union after Brexit, according to Greg Hands, the international trade minister.

Mr Hands said there would not be a choice between remaining within or leaving the customs union when Britain negotiates leaving the European Union.

The customs union operates alongside the free trade area and the single market and includes all EU member states as well as Andorra, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Turkey and San Marino.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Mr Hands said the UK could be selective about which sectors of the economy it wished to be covered by the arrangement.

"You can choose which markets, which products the customs unions affect and which they don't, so there isn't a binary thing of being inside the customs union or outside of the customs union," the international trade minister said.

"The history of international trade has got all kinds of examples of customs unions."

The comments come as Brexit Secretary David Davis suggested the UK would not axe free movement in a way that damages the British economy.

The Cabinet minister made the pledge as he suggested that firms should not be “wringing our hands”, but helping the Government forge the UK’s future after Brexit.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "As we enter these negotiations to leave the EU, what is important is we get a deal that makes sure our economy is successful and is able to draw on the resources and talent we need to be successful.

"We have made no secret of the fact we will continue to encourage the brightest and best to come to Britain."

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