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UK minister: Customs lock-in after Brexit not ‘will of the people’
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change Andrea Leadsom arrives for a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on October 29, 2018 in London, England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will deliver a budget speech later today to Parliament, the last before the official Brexit date next year of March 29, 2019. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

UK minister: Customs lock-in after Brexit not ‘will of the people’

London : The leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom said Britain cannot be ‘held against its will’ in a customs arrangement.

A Brexit deal that locks the U.K. into a customs union with the EU would not “fulfill the will of the people” and would probably be voted down by MPs, the House of Commons leader and Tory minister Andrea Leadsom said Sunday.

Leadsom made the comments during an interview on BBC 5 Live after the U.K.’s transport minister, Jo Johnson, resigned from his post on Friday and called for a second referendum on Prime Minister Theresa May’s “incoherent” Brexit strategy.

Leadsom dismissed the calls for another Brexit referendum and instead urged her “colleagues to support the prime minister.” But the Brexiteer minister fired a warning shot across May’s bows on the nature of the temporary customs arrangement that U.K. negotiators have been working through the weekend to pin down.

It is envisaged as a way to provide reassurance that a hard border in Northern Ireland will not be needed once the stand-alone transition period comes to an end.

The key point of disagreement is over how to ensure the arrangement is temporary. EU officials have said the U.K. would not be able to exit unilaterally because that would not constitute a true “backstop” solution to avoid the need for border checks.

Leadsom’s comments underline the fact that Brexiteer ministers will scrutinize carefully the precise mechanism that the two sides agree for how the customs arrangement will be ended. The Commons leader stressed that “the U.K. cannot be held against its will in a customs arrangement.”

“It cannot be a decision that can be overturned by the European Union,” she added. “That would be to then fail to fulfill on the will of the people, expressed in the referendum and I very much doubt we’d get it through parliament.”