With the Conservative Government’s Cabinet scheduled to meet imminently to agree a deal with the EU on the terms of Brexit, Anneliese Dodds, Labour MP for Oxford East, has urged a ‘reality check’ on customs arrangements.
News from recent negotiations suggest that the UK government may have accepted the need for a short-term customs union arrangement, but that it is still not willing to accept this in the long term.
Moving outside a customs union with the 27 countries remaining in the EU would lead to substantially increased bureaucracy and cost for Oxford businesses, not least just-in-time manufacturers like the local BMW plant.
Anneliese Dodds said: “The Conservative Government finally seems to have accepted the need for a customs union with the EU in the short term, but it is now having huge internal arguments about how long this arrangement will last. This is despite the fact that businesses right across the country, and not least in Oxford, really need a customs union with the rest of the EU. Moving outside a customs union with the EU could impose lengthy delays on the transportation of goods. This would cause havoc for just-in-time manufacturers like our BMW Cowley plant. It would also be ruinous for producers of perishable goods, who simply cannot wait at Dover or other ports until clearance is obtained.
While it is good that government has accepted the need for a short-term customs union with the EU, our businesses need certainty for the future so they can plan investment. That means staying in a customs union with the EU as a permanent arrangement”.