“Far away” trade deals will not replace benefits of a customs union, Unite warns govt

Theresa May should drop her Brexit red lines, Unite has said, following a call from business leaders for the UK to stay in a customs union with the EU to project the economy.

Head of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, said the UK should stay in a customs union with the bloc after Brexit.

Fairbairn said Britain should remain in a customs union until it is proven that the Tories’ much vaunted trade deals with other countries will compensate for the loss of EU trade.

In a speech at Warwick university on Monday (January 22), Fairbairn said, “Remaining a member of a customs union for as long as it serves us to do so is consistent with the result of the referendum.”

Unite assistant general secretary, Tony Burke, said May should heed calls for a Brexit that puts jobs and economic security first and abandon her intransigent approach to single market access and a customs union.

He said, “Unite has consistently called on Theresa May to drop her red lines, which have been imposed simply to appease far right Tory ideologues and leave major issues such as the Irish border impossible to solve.

“The Prime Minister must show leadership during one of the most critical junctures in the nation’s history.

“Instead of promising imagined trade deals with far off lands, she must concentrate on urgently achieving a transition deal and ensure a post-Brexit UK still has access to its biggest markets through membership of a comprehensive customs union with the EU.”