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Published: Mon, August 14, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Infighting UK ministers seek truce on Brexit transition period

Infighting UK ministers seek truce on Brexit transition period

The government will this week publish the first of three discussion papers ahead of the next round of negotiations, scheduled to start August 28 in Brussels, Brexit Secretary David Davis's office said in a statement on Sunday. They said the UK's borders "must continue to operate smoothly", that goods bought on the Internet "must still cross borders", and "businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU" in the weeks and months after Brexit.

Finance minister Philip Hammond, who favours a softer, pro-business Brexit, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, a hardline supporter of Britain leaving the European Union, have clashed over the UK's future outside the bloc.

That will come alongside other documents setting out how Britain's involvement in the customs union with other EU countries this week.

Hammond has spent the last few weeks arguing strongly for a lengthy Brexit transitional period, to the delight of pro-Europeans, and earlier this summer he hinted that he was considering an arrangement that would in effect keep the United Kingdom in the customs union, and therefore unable to sign bilateral trade deals with non-EU countries, for the period between Brexit and the final settlement coming into force. "We will leave the single market, because there was a vote for change on June 23rd and that is what we will deliver".

It added that businesses should be assured there would be no "cliff edge" despite fears expressed that the UK could crash out of the EU without reaching a deal, which would see UK-EU relations revert to World Trade Organisation rules.

"That is why we believe a time-limited interim period will be important to further our national interest and give business greater certainty - but it can not be indefinite; it can not be a back door to staying in the European Union", they wrote.

Theresa May will be back at her desk later this week after her holiday, with a set of government Brexit position papers due to be published shortly.

Meanwhile, former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband has called for politicians on all sides to unite to fight back against the "worst consequences" of Brexit.

"Nobody voted to be poorer previous year but that is exactly what will happen if the Government continues to put Eurosceptic dogma ahead of the national interest".

"Pulling Britain out of the single market and the customs union in 2019 will drive our economy over a cliff edge, putting jobs and family finances at risk", he said.

Negotiations between Brexit Secretary David Davis and European Union officials are set to resume at the end of this month.

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