Stephen Farry: Customs vote reinforces fears of catastrophic no deal Brexit

It is frustrating to see that MPs narrowly defeated a vote requiring the UK government to seek a fresh customs union with the EU if Brexit trade talks are unsuccessful.

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 10:23 am
MPs in the House of Commons read out the results of the vote where MPs defeated a Tory backbench Trade Bill amendment linked to the customs union by 307 votes to 301, majority six. Photo: PA Wire

The DUP’s position was illogical, given the party’s stated objective of avoiding new borders in these islands.

Once again the House of Commons has passed up a key opportunity to steer the UK towards a much softer Brexit, with less damage on the economy and wider society.

Many people, including the government, are stating their support for avoiding any new borders anywhere in these islands.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise


The UK entering into a fresh customs union is one essential component of making that a reality.

The decision to rule out the pursuit of a customs union even as a Plan B alternative further reinforces fears a catastrophic no-deal outcome is increasingly likely.

The most immediate requirement is agreement on the legal text around the backstop for Northern Ireland.

Without a customs union, the claim the need for the backstop can be avoided becomes increasingly challenging.

The approach of the DUP in supporting the government in voting down a customs union is particularly illogical.

Some commentators, and even the DUP themselves, have indicated their own real red line is avoiding a customs interface down the Irish Sea.

The UK as a whole being in a customs union with the EU is a necessary requirement to achieve this.

Once again the DUP are acting against the fundamental economic and political interests of Northern Ireland.

Stephen Farry MLA, Alliance Brexit spokesperson