Petley spoke to Sputnik right after Prime Minister Theresa May's landmark speech on Friday focusing on the future UK-EU partnership, in which she reiterated that the country intended to leave the Customs Union in order to pursue an independent trade policy, but would remain committed to ensuring frictionless trade with the bloc.
"I think as far as the customs union is concerned… it's a non-starter and was never a prominent part of the referendum campaign for one very good reason and that's because it simply doesn't work. If you actually study what the customs union is it's basically the [EU] member states plus a few microstates… the only big country that's not in the EU but is associated with the customs union is Turkey, and it simply doesn't work there," Petley stated.
Petley characterized the single market as a better option to ensure seamless EU-UK trade during the interim period and pointed to a customs clearance agreement as a way out.
"The customs union is a dead duck and the sooner people realize what we need is a customs clearance agreement and stop fixating on the customs union in the abstract the sooner we can move on to something more sensible," he added.
According to Petley, the United Kingdom has so far failed to demonstrate enough coherence during the negotiations with the European Union. Brussels tried to get more clarity out of London by suggesting to retain a common regulatory area between the EU member state Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Petley pointed out.
The United Kingdom began negotiations with the European Union on its departure from the bloc in June last year. The two sides need to hammer out a deal by April 2019, when the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union.
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