Brexit: DUP 'Cannot Support' Labour Plan To Keep UK In Customs Union

Ned Simons

The DUP will not support amending Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal to keep the entire UK in a customs union with the EU one of the party’s MPs has said, in a serious blow to supporters of the plan. 

Labour will try to amend the withdrawal agreement bill by putting down amendments for a second referendum and a customs union with the EU.

Shadow solicitor general Nick Thomas-Symonds told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday evening a customs union had a “very good chance of getting a majority” in the Commons.

In April an attempt to keep the UK in a customs union was defeated by just three votes.

The DUP turned against Johnson’s deal last week as it placed a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The unionist party fears it could lead to a united Ireland.

A all-UK customs union, as proposed by Labour, would remove the need for border checks in the Irish sea.

But DUP MP Jim Shannon told Sky News on Monday morning: “We are clear where we stand on the customs union, it’s something we cannot support.”

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said today making a customs union part of any deal “would take us back to square one and render the UK unable to strike our own bilateral trade agreements around the world”.

It comes as the government prepares for a showdown with Commons Speaker John Bercow as the PM pushes for a knife-edge Commons vote on his Brexit deal.

Bercow will rule on whether the government can bring a so-called “meaningful vote” on its plans.

If the Speaker is expected to block the move on the basis MPs should not be asked to vote on the same question twice.

The focus will then switch to the government bringing its withdrawal agreement bill (WAB) before MPs - the legislation needed to write the exit agreement into law.

Ministers insist they “have the numbers” to push the agreement through, but the parliamentary situation appears to be on a tightrope.

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