May insists Britain leaving EU customs union


SOFIA (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May denied on Thursday she was “climbing down” on plans to leave the EU customs union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an informal dinner ahead of a summit with leaders of the six Western Balkans countries in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/Pool

Asked about reports that her government would ask Brussels to stay in the European Union’s customs area beyond the end of a post-Brexit transition period in 2020, she told reporters at an EU summit in Bulgaria:

“No. The United Kingdom will be leaving the customs union as we’re leaving the European Union. Of course, we will be negotiating future customs arrangements with the European Union and I’ve set three objectives … in those.”

She said these were that Britain should have its own trade policy with the rest of the world, should have frictionless trade with the EU and that there be no “hard border” with Ireland.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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