February 23, 2018 / 10:05 AM / a month ago

Labour would seek to replicate customs union post Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - If Britain’s Labour Party won power it would seek to join a new customs union with the European Union after Brexit, according to the opposition party’s spokeswoman for foreign affairs.

Britain's opposition Labour party shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry speaks at the Labour party Conference in Brighton, Britain, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Through the existing customs union EU members agree to apply identical tariffs to goods from outside the union.

Speaking on LBC radio on Thursday, Emily Thornberry said Britain “would need to be in a form of customs union” with the EU to ensure frictionless trade and prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.

“Technically, because we’re leaving the European Union, we can’t be in the customs union we are in now,” she said.

“We leave and then we have to negotiate a new agreement that, we think, is likely to be a customs union that will look pretty much like the current customs union.”

Her comments were made ahead of speech by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Monday when he is expected to clarify the party’s Brexit position.

On Tuesday Corbyn said the UK needed a customs union after Brexit that allowed trade, especially between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Britain’s health minister, Jeremy Hunt, ruled out staying in the customs union.

Hunt was speaking a day after Prime Minister Theresa May met her top aides to resolve differences over the government’s EU strategy.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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