Q. Can you name a single leader or country that backs a deal like this?
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) February 26, 2018
Labour have sent Barry Gardiner out on broadcast to defend their customs union u-turn, a brave choice given his previous statements on why we shouldn’t stay in “a” customs union with the EU. Below was him writing in the Guardian last July. Barry is claiming he’s being taken out of context, so Guido reproduces his words in full:
Other countries such as Turkey have a separate customs union agreement with the EU. If we were to have a similar agreement, several things would follow: the EU’s 27 members would set the common tariffs and Britain would have no say in how they were set. We would be unable to enter into any separate bilateral free trade agreement. We would be obliged to align our regulatory regime with the EU in all areas covered by the union, without any say in the rules we had to adopt. And we would be bound by the case law of the ECJ, even though we would have no power to bring a case to the court.
As a transitional phase, a customs union agreement might be thought to have some merit. However, as an end point it is deeply unattractive. It would preclude us from making our own independent trade agreements with our five largest export markets outside the EU (the US, China, Japan, Australia and the Gulf states).
Gardiner made the same point on Twitter in December:
1. We cease to be a member of THE customs union when we leave the EU
2. A customs union AGREEMENT with EU, like Turkey has, would give EU power to decide our tariffs & quotas with 3rd countries. We’d be forced to liberalise our market but have no reciprocal access to theirs.
— Barry Gardiner (@BarryGardiner) December 6, 2017
Almost as if this is opportunism from Labour rather than doing what they think is best for Brexit…