Theresa May reiterates: United Kingdom will leave customs union in 2020

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

Brexit - UK seeking previously unthought of 'third way' around the Northern Ireland customs border impasse

"Any move that the UK might make that would help to align all of the United Kingdom and European Union in terms of customs in the future would be beneficial. And we've yet to see anything that remotely approaches that".

The British government is considering staying aligned to the EU's customs union for years after a post-Brexit transition period if it can not resolve the Irish border issue, newspaper reports said Thursday.

Mrs May's Brexit "war cabinet" convened again on Tuesday, but did not reach an agreement on which of the two options for customs arrangements on the Irish border - the "customs partnership" or "maximum facilitation" - it will support.

Under a customs partnership, favoured by Remainers and the PM but bitterly opposed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who called it "crazy" last week, the United Kingdom would collect tariffs for Brussels.

But pro-Remain MPs welcomed signs of a compromise.

He also said that any plan for a UK/EU shared customs area is "welcome", though work needed to go on the backstop to prevent checks on the Irish border following Brexit.

A Whitehall source said ministers had discussed a possible extension lasting "months rather than years".

“They have to get all 27 member states to agree and that includes Ireland. And Tusk is squarely behind Dublin.”
“They have to get all 27 member states to agree and that includes Ireland. And Tusk is squarely behind Dublin.”

"Today's failure highlights the deep division at the heart of Government on the most basic of issues".

According to the newspaper, the Irish question may remain unresolved until 2023. But officials have warned it could take as long as five years to implement a new customs plan.

Using a rarely used parliamentary device called a "humble address", Labour will call on Queen Elizabeth to give directions that "all papers, presentations and economic analysis" from January be offered up to the House of Commons, the lower house.

Speaking ahead of the debate Keir Starmer, Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, said: "The Government's Brexit strategy is in complete and utter deadlock".

Earlier this week, the British government promised to produce a 100-page white paper on the future trading relationship.

Britain also wants to be able to forge its own trade deals with non-EU countries. To ensure that, she isn't afraid to let her departure plan run on.

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