Britain wants to leave the European Union’s Customs Union, after spending a transition period retaining its benefits through a temporary customs arrangement for a hitherto unspecified number of years. How long should it last? David Davis has suggested two years, although Boris Johnson has indicated this morning that he could want it to last for as little as one year, telling the Today programme that “we should get on” with leaving “with speed and efficiency”. “The sooner we leave the Customs Union, the better,” argues Leo McKinstry.
However, Michel Barnier is determined to drag out talks until the British go far enough on opening issues like the securing of citizens’ rights post-Brexit and how much they would pay to “settle accounts” in the process. He might be pleased to hear the Foreign Secretary softening his tone on the issue of payments, after famously telling European chiefs to“go whistle” for sums as large as £100 billion. “We are bill-paying people”,” Mr Johnson told the BBC, so Britain’s “legal obligations” will be met.
But how much will those “obligations” amount to? The British have offered £36 billion as long as they can start talking about trade alongside everything else, although the EU is holding out for a larger sum. As negotiators prepare to reunite next week, officials in Brussels have been scoffing at the ” magical thinking” from the British over Brexit. In turn, British officials have told the Sun that they are set to tear into Team Barnier’s “ stubborn and unreasonable” approach. If Mr Johnson envisages a speedy exit after a similarly swift negotiation process, one side is going to have to start giving ground.
The next round of talks will reportedly start on the Monday bank holiday. I’ll be off then, but will be back to update you about what has been happening on Tuesday.
Source: for MORE