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Friday, April 27, 2018

More mixed messages on single market

Just when you thought that the Prime Minister had ruled out the UK being part of a single market after Brexit when along comes the Home Secretary to contradict her.

To be precise, all Amber Rudd is saying is that the government is yet to arrive at a “final position” on whether the UK will be in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. But that does make us wonder whether her and Theresa May are attending the same cabinet meetings or not?

As the Independent says, the Home Secretary's admission is likely to enrage Conservative Brexiteers, including cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Boris Johnson, who see staying out of any sort of customs union as fundamental to their vision of Britain’s future. The problem of course is that nobody is quite sure what that alternative vision is, how we are going to get there nor what it will mean for the UK economy.

Apparently, the pro-Brexit DUP, which props up Ms May’s Commons majority, are pretty upset as well. One of their senior figures, who presumably prefers to remain anonymous, immediately stated that leaving the customs union is a “red line” for the Northern Irish party. Given that would mean ripping up the Good Friday agreement and a decade of peace in Northern Ireland, I am not so sure that the UK Government should really be associated with such people.

Although Amber Rudd has since sought to walk her comments back, what is clear is that the cabinet remains divided on this issue, and as a result we continue to drive towards the Brexit cliff edge, without any idea as to who is steering.
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