Today, Vince Cable challenged David Davis to answer six questions over plans set out on future customs arrangements after Brexit.
The government is offering two ways forward but won’t tell us which it prefers. That’s no doubt because cabinet ministers can’t even agree amongst themselves.
These plans are more concerned with papering over the cracks within the Conservative party than protecting our economy.
All those industries that depend on membership of the customs union, from the car industry to aerospace, still have no clear idea what is coming down the track.
All they know is that instead of jumping off a cliff in 18 months, the government now wants to do so in a few years’ time.
The government must come clean over the real costs of these plans for British businesses and consumers.
These are the six questions that David Davis must answer on the Customs Union:
- The government has outlined two future approaches, a streamlined customs arrangement or a new customs partnership. Has the government decided which would be its preferred outcome, and if so why was this not specified in the paper?
- How does the government expect to be able to negotiate new trade deals with non-EU countries before the terms of any future deal between the UK and EU are known?
- The government says that in the case of a ‘no deal’ scenario, it would treat trade with the EU as it currently treats trade with non-EU countries and customs duty and import VAT would be due on EU imports. Have ministers modelled what the potential costs of this scenario would be for UK consumers and businesses?
- Has the government considered the impact that lowering environmental and consumer standards, e.g. the ban on imports of chlorinated chicken, could have on future customs arrangement with the EU?
- Has the government estimated the financial cost to taxpayers of setting a new streamlined customs arrangement and how long these will take to put in place?
- Can the government confirm that every member of the cabinet, including Liam Fox, has endorsed this paper?