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Labour and Tories have 'fair bit in common' over future customs rules, says Lidington

Minister David Lidington said that talks between the Tories and Labour would continue next week but wouldn’t go on for months.

Image: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

MINISTER FOR THE Cabinet Office David Lidington has said that Theresa May’s government and Labour have a “fair bit in common” over what future customs arrangement the UK should have with the EU.

The de facto deputy Prime Minister told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the objective “is to get no tariffs, no quotas, no rules of origin” on goods being traded between the EU and UK after Brexit. 

He added that the two sides were “testing” ways that they could move forward. “When we leave the European Union, we leave the EU’s Custom’s Union,” he said, saying they had agreed on that.

Lidington said that the talks would continue next week on particular topics, including climate and security issues, but that they wouldn’t go on for months.

“I don’t think this question should be allowed to drag out,” he said

British Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to ask EU leaders for a second Brexit extension, delaying the last date by which the UK can leave the EU from 12 April to 31 October.

She has been unable to persuade MPs, including a large number of her own, to back her Withdrawal Agreement, but is also unwilling to take Britain out of the EU with no deal.

She is still hoping Brexit can happen in time to avoid Britain taking part in European Parliament elections on 23 May through striking up a compromise with the Labour party.

May met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on 3 April and there have been further lower-level talks since then over Labour’s demand for a close future relationship with the EU.

Lidington said there must be “compromise on both sides”, adding that if no agreement could be reached, they would put a series of Brexit options to parliament to decide.

Lidington ruled out the possibility of a second referendum, something Labour have said would need to be part of the deal.

He also defended Prime Minister Theresa May’s position, saying that a change of leader would “not change the arithmetic in Parliament”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, former Taoiseach John Bruton said:

“The big mistake Britain made was saying they were concerned about EU immigration… the British are leaving the Single Market simply because of an immigration problem that is not a problem.”

In fact Britain needs immigrants now more than it ever needs them. Now they’ve backed themselves into a cul de sac.

- with reporting from AFP

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