United Kingdom says it will not stay in European Union via 'back door'

Stormont-castle

Stormont-castle

The chancellor Philip Hammond and worldwide trade secretary Liam Fox - prominent Remain and Leave advocates respectively - have jointly confirmed there will be a transition period after leaving the European Union and that the country will leave the single market and customs union.

After weeks of cabinet infighting and damaging headlines, Hammond - accused by Brexit hardliners of trying to water down attempts to break free of the European Union after Brexit - and hard Brexit advocate Fox appeared to have reconciled their differences in a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the pair appear to end months of bickering and confirm the transition period in order to steer the country away from a cliff-edge when it leaves.

"We will leave the customs union and be free to negotiate the best trade deals around the world as an independent, open, trading nation".

"I've launched this process because with time of the essence, we need to get on with negotiating the bigger issues around our future partnership to ensure we get a deal that delivers a strong United Kingdom and a strong EU".

The paper says that a "formal position paper to be published next week by the government" which will state that ministers are sticking with plans for a "light touch" customs border.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox leave after a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 27, 2017. He said: "Over the summer we heard that Philip Hammond was courageously fighting off the more extreme Brexiteers".

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Philip Hammond and Liam Fox have poured cold water on the idea of a soft Brexit by declaring Britain will not remain in the single market or customs union. The rebellion didn't last very long.

David Jones, the pro-leave Tory who was the Brexit minister until the general election, told the BBC that Hammond had "rowed back from his previous position".

The jointly penned article appeared created to reassure those in favour of a clean break, but will do little to comfort those fearing the consequences of a so-called "hard Brexit". Previously he had been downplaying the need for such a lengthy interim stage.

But they did not explain how these aims would be achieved.

Their article was published as the Conservative MP Anna Soubry said that she and probably other pro-Europeans could leave the party if May insisted on pursuing a hard Brexit.

According to reports, the Brexit negotiations have not begun well due to disagreements among Prime Minister Theresa May's team of ministers about the kind of deal they should be seeking.

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