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2 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Brexit divisions roil Tory party ahead of key cabinet meet

AFP

Britain’s ruling Conservatives were mired in divisions over Brexit Sunday ahead of a crunch cabinet meeting next week and following warnings from the EU that time is running out to reach a withdrawal deal, reports AFP from London.

Just days after backbench lawmakers told Prime Minister Theresa May that its “departure must be absolute”, Business Secretary Greg Clark refused to rule out indefinitely extending a transition period out of the EU.

Under the current timetable the implementation period is set to end in December 2020, after Britain leaves the bloc next March.

“It seems to me that any reasonable person would have to be guided by the facts and the evidence,” Clark told Sky News.

“There are things that would need to (be) put in place, computer systems for example, posts at the border,” he added.

Andrea Jenkyns, who quit a junior government role to campaign on Brexit, delivered a letter Friday to May signed by more than 30 Tories insisting the opposite.

Calling on her to show “courage and leadership”, the group said: “We must not remain entangled with the EU’s institutions if this restricts our ability to exercise our sovereignty as an independent nation.”

The British cabinet is also deeply divided on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove last week physically ripped up proposals for possible post-Brexit customs arrangements with the EU favoured by May, according to reports Saturday.

Gove, a leading proponent of Brexit, was “livid” after concluding his concerns about the plans had been downplayed, the reports said.

May will gather together her warring ministers for a key Brexit meeting Friday to thrash out a unified stance ahead of the release of a formal policy proposal the following week.

The cabinet, which has been dogged by public discord on various aspects of Brexit, is in deadlock over two options for customs arrangements after the March 29, 2019 withdrawal date.

A “maximum facilitation” model proposes using trusted-trader arrangements and technology to avoid border checks, while a “customs partnership” system would see Britain collect tariffs on behalf of the EU for goods heading to the continent.

Two groups of cabinet members have been looking at each of the plans.

Gove was reportedly among the ministers examining the partnership model, largely opposed by Brexiteers, and was reacting to a summary report of their supposed position on it prepared by civil servants.

Downing Street declined to comment.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire attempted to downplay divisions Sunday.

“There’s strong views on either side,” he told the BBC, adding he was “confident” ministers would emerge from Friday’s meeting with a “clear direction”.

European Union president Donald Tusk issued a “last call” Friday for Britain to explain what it wants from Brexit.

The Independent newspaper said Sunday that EU leaders had given up hope of reaching an agreement by the next summit in October, as originally envisaged by both sides, and was now looking seriously at a no-deal scenario.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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