British Brexit Secretary David Davis stated Monday that the United Kingdom would leave the union simultaneously with the withdrawal from the European Union. However, he stressed that in the course of negotiations with Brussels the UK would seek to conclude an agreement on free trade. This position was announced by Davis after his meeting with the EU's chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier.
"We want a comprehensive free trade agreement," he said.
Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister's spokesperson has also defined the Downing Street street position on the customs union after Brexit.
The United Kingdom decided to leave both options concerning the future customs arrangement, which were set out last year, the spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May explained, adding that no deadline for a decision had been set.
No. 10 is insisting that Britain will leave the customs union after Brexit ahead of a crucial week of Brexit meetings with senior ministers and the EU chief negotiator.
The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to make her position clear, Downing Street has for the first time categorically ruled out any possibility of a customs union with EU following Brexit.
"It is not our policy to stay in a Customs Union," said an official source at No. 10, according to the Guardian.
Mrs. May has been under pressure to avoid a split in the Conservative Party and clarify her position. Last week while talking to reporters in China the Prime Minister refused to rule out staying in a customs union:
"What I want to do is ensure that we have got the best possible trade arrangements with China and with other countries around the world once we have left the European Union," she said.
While the UK's International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox was quick to oppose her:
"It's very difficult to see how being in a customs union is compatible with having an independent trade policy because we would, therefore, be dependent on what the EU negotiated in terms of its trading policies and we'd be following behind that," he said, exposing tensions in the government over Brexit.
The clarification also comes after the Financial Times report last week, citing UK officials, claiming Britain was secretly considering a customs deal with the EU after Brexit.
Another report by the Sunday Times suggested that Brexit supporters were preparing to move against Theresa May and to replace her with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers to take over her administration.
Despite Downing Street's latest statement, tensions in the government remain high and the possibility of a leadership challenge for the prime minister still looms as supporters of a soft Brexit don't want to back down either, Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond has been calling for "very modest" changes to the UK's relationship with the EU.
On Monday, Mrs. May and Brexit Secretary David Davis are scheduled to have crucial meetings with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier ahead of the next round of Brexit talks, they're expected to report on the progress on Friday.UK Government Ministers Pledge to Publish Brexit Impact Assessments
While, the Brexit cabinet sub-committee is due to meet on Wednesday and Thursday this week.